In the preface to Waveform, the editor writes, “This book is not a memorial. Although we need to remember the women writers who have come before, this book is about women writing essays now. The wave is an image that catches the sense and motion that define the current movement, its fluidity and momentum.” This essay certainly has momentum– so much, in fact, that I would sit down to peruse just one essay and find myself dragged into the current of two or three.
A few things to appreciate about the collection in general. First, there is a wide variety of form here. As an educator, I value this and if I find a need to bring in an essay collection in the future for a course, you can bet I’ll be looking to this one. Some essays are sandwiched with two images, some forms are restrictive (one for every letter of the alphabet), while some are based around found words (such as the heartbreaking “Transgender Day of Remembrance.”) The variety of forms kept me reading.
The variety of stories here, too, showed a wide range of women’s experiences– yes, essays about motherhood, sexual violence, and girls growing up, but also essays about gun ownership, race, and leaving. Some of the highlights for me in this collection were “Portrait of a Family: Crooked and Straight” by Wendy Rawlings, “Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain” by Leslie Jamison, “The Girl, The Cop, and I” by Laurie Lynn Drummond, and “Girl Hood: On (Not) Finding Yourself in Books” by Jaquira Diaz.
Honestly, many of these essays touched me deeply, and I felt myself wanting to be a fly on the wall during the meeting at AWP a few years ago when this project (according to the preface) was first envisioned. It’s a fine collection, and one I highly recommend.
Thank you to NetGalley for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.
Waveform: Twenty-First Century Essays By Women, Ed. by Marcia Aldrich
Released: December 15, 2016
The University of Georgia Press
Can purchase here