On a radically different note: at Vice, John Reed has written a stunning, terrifying history of his family’s relationship with his grandmother in an essay, “My Grandma the Poisoner.” After finding a bag of dead animals while cleaning the house his grandmother vacated to move to a nursing home, Reed begins to more closely inspect his grandma’s behavior and finds it far more sinister than he’d remembered. It can sometimes seem like a revelation to love bad people, but people do it the world over, and Reed makes the case for excavating your family’s past despite whatever pain it might cause you. This is one of the most breathtaking essays I’ve read in months, and anyone who has ever had potentially dangerous characters in their families—or even anyone who hasn’t, so yeah, everyone—should read this piece.
You can trust Roxane Gay to publish something monumental at least once a week, and this week, it’s “Theses on the Feminist Novel.” Gay seamlessly weaves her sensitive, elegant voice into philosophy, and the result is a thoughtful essay on feminism and literature, with Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy as the thematic crux. Writes Gay,
“A feminist novel, then, is one that not only deals explicitly with the stories and thereby the lives of women; it is also a novel that illuminates some aspect of the female condition and/or offers some kind of imperative for change and/or makes a bold or unapologetic political statement in the best interests of women.”
The missing students in Guerrero, Mexico have yet to be found, and Francisco Goldman’s piece for the New Yorker, “Crisis in Mexico: The Disappearance of the Forty-Three,” is a graceful, wrenching primer on the situation and ensuing political climate. For those who are unaware: on September 26, students at the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Guerrero, disappeared. Forty-three of them have yet to be found, and no one has come forward with claims of responsibility. However, the mayor of Iguala and his wife have fled; the governor of Guerrero has stepped down as fury spreads from the region throughout Mexico. Writes Goldman,
“An air of sadness, disgust, fear and foreboding hangs over Mexico City, where I live, like the unseasonably cold, gray, drizzly weather we’ve been having. This is usually a festive time of year, with the Day of the Dead holidays approaching, but it’s impossible to feel lighthearted. As one friend put it, the government’s cardboard theatre has fallen away, exposing Mexico’s horrifying truths.”