Naming the truth: Bracing honesty from Meghan Daum, in The New Yorker

Sunday, September 28, 2014

You want to know what honesty is? It's the ability to stare straight into the heart of something and speak the truth. Not the comfortable distortions. Not the way you wish it were—it or you. Meghan Daum piercingly and hauntingly writes the truth in this new piece in The New Yorker.

From an essay in the September 29 edition, entitled "Difference Maker." Spare, searching, riveting, deep, this essay that took my breath away.

There was a grassy lawn where the dog rolled around scratching its back, and a big table on the deck where friends sat on weekends eating grilled salmon and drinking wine and complaining about things they knew were a privilege to complain about (the cost of real estate, the noise of leaf blowers, the overratedness of the work of more successful peers). And as I lay on that bed it occurred to me, terrifyingly, that all of it might not be enough. Maybe such pleasures, while pleasurable enough, were merely trimmings on a nonexistent tree. Maybe nothing—not a baby or the lack of a baby, not a beautiful house, not rewarding work—was ever going to make us anything other than the chronically dissatisfied, perpetually second-guessers we already were.

An interview with Meghan on The New Yorker blog is essential reading for anyone contemplating a memoir or memoiristic essay. Among other things, Meghan speaks of the difference between having material and having something to say.

Yes. And absolutely.


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