When women write in the first person their work is often called “confessional.” And there’s an accepted template for female narratives that tends to be the only story you read in bestselling books and first-person essays in women’s magazines that goes like: “I was bad – [sordid description of bad behavior] – but then [love, my baby, my husband, AA, etc] saved me. I solved my problem. I am no longer bad.” I have nothing against redemption per se but I am really bored with that story. That story doesn’t reflect anything about what women’s or human beings’ lives are really like. I have always gravitated to books that resist the commercial impulse to make life conform to formulaic narrative conventions. This is how books are marketed, understandably, because it’s an easy story to sum up, and you can also sell it to the reader as instructive: this is how you, too, can get better and start living your best life ™! But I prefer to read books like, say, Glory Goes and Gets Some by Emily Carter, where the narrator goes to rehab, gets clean, and then the book is only half over and she still has to figure out life and it’s genuine and very complicated.
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