D. Gilson’s essay, “On Faggot: an Etymology,” appeared in The Indiana Review issue 35.1 and was selected by John Jeremiah Sullivan as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2014. Here’s an interview with Gilson in which he discusses his piece, touring Anne Hathaway’s cottage, what his essay so easily could have been, and what he pushed it toward instead.
Posts Categorized: Nonfiction
We a happy to announce two special calls for submissions in Nonfiction! These submissions are exempt from our usual non-subscriber reading fee and are open from December 18 through February 15.
We’re looking for your most marauding manifestos. We don’t want your past; we want your future. We want the culmination of philosophies spawned by all of your cancer-surviving, new-city-visiting, masturbating, real-life soapboxing. We want to know what’s buzzing inside the hive mind of contemporary literature, that work of real necessity. What do you believe will be the next breakthrough? What do you think we should all pay attention to? Dare to tell us all what we should be doing.
Nonfiction Graphic Memoir
When drawing and text are combined to explore the realm of memoir, readers are allowed to enter the headspace of the writer in a way that is akin to walking into someone’s dreams. Somewhere out there, we hope there is a team of benevolent scientists and artists creatively collaborating on inventing a machine that will actually allow us walk through one another’s dreams. When that true genius comes into fruition, rest assured Indiana Review will be the first literary magazine out there turning Dream Walks into a Call for Submissions. In the meantime, we would like to see what you cartoonists, you purposefully lonely and most unsung of all contemporary writing beasts, are doing in your hobbit holes, your hands covered in ink. Collaborative submissions are very welcome.
Every representation is a failure in its own way.
I stopped praying regularly about two years ago, give or take a few days.
There is a hole in my mouth.
You can refill an ink cartridge with the same type of syringe used to draw blood.
Is it possible to truly submit to another person?
Plato said that at the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.
I’m really sorry your grandfather died.
Imagine if God sent rejection notices for inadequate devotion.
A filling in one of my molars is broken.
I find that one person’s failure is often more interesting than another’s success.
Why did you make your epigraph that line everyone knows from Beckett?
Four billion trees are cut down each year for the sake of paper.
There are several rare species of flower which grow in the ashes of forest fires.
If you submit to God, he is supposed to judge you, but then love you anyway.
Sometimes it only takes me a paragraph to know it isn’t there; sometimes, only a
You can buy dental cement from any pharmacy, but its efficacy is limited.
Last year, a teenager in jail stabbed his cellmate to death with a pencil because
he heard voices in his head.
But, really, does your essay have anything to say?
I read so many things about cancer that I sometimes worry I’m getting a new kind of
cancer you get from reading things about cancer.
To reduce eye strain when using a computer for long periods of time, stare out a
window at the most distant object possible.
In the Middle Ages, parchment was made from the skin of calves, sheep, or goats.
On the phone, the dentist said I shouldn’t eat any more hard candy until I get the
I’m not really dominant, but I’m not really submissive either.
An interesting formal strategy is no excuse for a lack of occasion.
I wouldn’t have forgotten your birthday if I was your dad.
All happy families are unhappy sometimes, but usually that’s not very interesting.
Every prayer is an essay in faith.
A woman killed all her darlings and found afterward that she was alone in
a small room with nothing.
They call the cap to the tooth a crown and in this way, so many of us are royalty.
How long do you wait for an answer before you stop believing there are answers?
The columns in ancient Greece were originally painted bright colors, either in
tribute to the gods or because someone thought it was prettier that way.
Jacques Ellul said prayer holds together the shattered fragments of the creation,
that it makes history possible.
I refuse to stop believing, even when it is difficult.
One of the most effective submission moves is the sleeper hold, which blocks the
flow of oxygen for as long as it is maintained.
Emergency tracheotomies are commonly performed with the tube of a ballpoint pen.
My filling has been broken for a while, but I thought if I wrote about it, that
might get me to finally do something.
Why did you make your epigraph that line everyone knows from Auden?
Most bronze statues are hollow.
This week, we finally hear from our marvelous Nonfiction Editor, Sarah Suksiri, who shares with us her delight for innovative nonfiction.
Where is home?
A little suburb in the Silicon Valley where there is plenty of good Vietnamese food and rush hour traffic.
Favorite issue of IR?
Our Winter 2011 issue. It has a good haul of nonfiction writers — possibly the most IR has ever published!
Tell us about what you’re reading right now.
I’m reading Scott Russell Sanders’ latest collection of essays, Earth Works, which I have to put down between every other essay because it makes me want to go for long walks.
What are you excited to see in nonfiction?
I get excited about creative and journalistic nonfiction exhibited in elegant, accessible online forms that do the work justice, like Wave Composition, The Junket, and The New Inquiry, or even blogs as a form of creative nonfiction, fused beautifully with other multimedia, like Ian Coyle’s Edits. I’m excited that there seems to be a very hungry audience for nonfiction, and that there are so many people who want to participate in other people’s experiences by reading about them. I’m also excited for our new Nonfiction Editor, Mal Hellman, to take the reins and make IR nonfiction even better.
In the newest DIAGRAM (11.5), Eric LeMay’s nonfiction piece, “Losing the Lottery,” is presented in Flash. You click six lottery numbers, and while you read through each of the forty-nine sections, you’re also playing a simulation of the lottery with your numbers, at a rate of $100 a second. It’s a clever and powerful construction, and also incredibly hypnotic—I was unable to stop staring at the screen as I plowed through thousands of dollars. I wondered if the code was really random, if I might strike the six-match jackpot early. I had nothing to lose but time. I didn’t have to insert a coin or swipe a card or even click a button; the numbers rattled through without me. My eyes glazed as I considered what I could have bought instead of the tickets: a jetski. Five years’ worth of gas. Six laptops. I finally left the page after I lost thirty thousand dollars.
“Losing the Lottery” is an excellent example of what the online format makes possible. I admire this piece because it’s something that can’t happen on a static piece of paper. It’s interactive; it moves; it’s ambitious. “The Switch” by Pierce Gleeson is another terrific example.
Photo by Madonovan via flickr.