Looking over my selections for this month’s Creative Nonfiction column, I’m thinking this would have made an excellent series for Father’s Day. But when you’re reading submissions, you can’t ever predict what sort of writing is going to pop up and make you love it at any given moment. And knowing writers as I know them, I imagine none of the four I’ve chosen for this month’s issue would enjoy waiting another nine months for publication.
When Faye Rapoport DesPres sent me her new essay, “Lifeguard,” she told me “I finished the piece with only one editor in mind—you. I think you will understand why after you read it.” She has written an affecting story about her father, and she is referencing my seven and a half years of caring for my elderly parents at home. While telling an editor that a piece was written at least partially with him or her in mind might not be a bad strategy for capturing editorial attention, I would publish a story this good no matter what it was about. Why? Because DesPres is that good a writer.
While Connotation Press is far from the first magazine in the history of the publishing world to run photos with a story, or even the first online magazine to do so, one cool thing about our website is that we can put up all manner of multimedia projects just with a click. The photos in Matt Briggs’ “Genre of Silence” do a beautiful job of illustrating—in the best sense of the word—the story, much of which has to do with his father. This piece covers a lot of ground and is an absolute joy to read—and view.
“Chasing Chekhov” by Bob Kunzinger is another dad story, an epistolary one, and indeed begins with “Dear Dad.” It blends travelogue and family feeling, describing a trip through Russia, addressed to the narrator’s father. It is an extraordinarily charming and extraordinarily well written piece, and I will leave it to you to enjoy it without any further introduction from me.
“When Blacking Out Was a Lifestyle Choice,” by Joe McDade, while not strictly a father story (though a father-in-law does feature prominently), does speak to a concern that is personally close to me and to many others. Over the past thirty years that I have not had a drink, I have heard and read any number of sobriety stories. Some of them focus on what is harrowing, others on what is hopeful. All of them take you to bottom and back up to redemption, and with his dedicated attention to detail, McDade’s story is one of the best I’ve read in the genre. He demonstrates H.O.W. sobriety is done—with honesty, openness, and willingness.
I realize that by selecting these essays, I may be implying that I’m interested only in publishing those stories that touch my experiences in eldercare or sobriety. Nothing could be more untrue! Ordinarily, the stories that affect me the most are the ones that dramatize areas of experience with which I am totally unfamiliar.
So I invite you to submit nonfiction on a topic of your choice. I’m looking for creative nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, and personal essays—with the understanding that these categories often overlap. Up to 10,000 words. Please submit work directly to me at [email protected]. I look forward to reading your work!