Living amid so much beauty is thrilling and exhausting.
Over the next two years, Sugar’s fans—a devoted readership that includes more than fifteen thousand Facebook and Twitter followers—learned bits about who she was. She was a she. She had lost her mother far too early. She had children, a husband, student-loan debt, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of open-minded, honest advice. Her responses covered jealousy, the decision to have (or not have) children, drug addiction, and the unanswerable questions of life. On Tuesday night, at a coming-out party in San Francisco, Sugar formally introduced herself as Cheryl Strayed, a writer living in Portland whose new memoir, “Wild,” will be the Rumpus Book Club’s pick for March. She recently took time to answer questions on anonymity, intimacy, and her relationship with her readers. An edited version of the exchange appears below.
-An interview with Cheryl Strayed, who was recently revealed to be Sugar. You can watch the whole "coming out party" here. And here's a beautiful Cheryl Strayed essay from The Sun: "The Love of My Life"
You died in winter and so the whole world was your elegy. Now spring comes with its silly, joyful tune, and I cannot hear the words.
-An elegy by Dave Lucas, in Granta
Auden’s kitchen was long and narrow, with many pots and pans hanging on the wall. He preferred such delicacies as tongue, tripe, brains, and Polish sausage, ascribing the eating of beefsteak to the lower orders (“it’s madly non-U!”). He drank Smirnoff martinis, red wine, and cognac, shunned pot, and confessed to having, under a doctor’s supervision, tried LSD: “Nothing much happened, but I did get the distinct impression that some birds were trying to communicate with me.”
His conversation was droll, intelligent, and courtly, a sort of humanistic global gossip, disinterested in the machinations of ambition, less interested in concrete poetry, absolutely exclusive of electronic influence.
-an interview with W.H. Auden, from the Paris Review archives
Lynn engages a prescient point: are literary magazines an end, or a means toward an end, for writers? From an economic standpoint, he reaches a practical conclusion, shared by most writers involved in the submission process: while publication in literary magazines might be an aesthetic end, it is no means an economic one. Since “many authors today hold academic positions… promotion in the academy often depends on generating vitae with lists of publications that otherwise have earned them little beyond the price of a meal or two.” The obvious irony needs to be unpacked. Scan the contributor notes of any contemporary literary magazine, and you will find Lynn’s statement true: writers are often employed by university English departments, or are students in MFA programs affiliated with those departments. Other than a few and often notable distinctions, the economy of literary magazines appears to be a closed system: writers publish in literary magazines that are often read by writers. Money is tight, payment is low, and subscriptions and institutional support appear to be the final hope for sustenance. Does it have to be that way?
-Nick Ripatrazone over at The Millions