The Craft of Memoir: Strange Attractors on Writing and Chance

June 13, 2019, 7:00 PM

143 7th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Has a stunning surprise or lucky encounter ever propelled you in an unanticipated direction? Are you doing what you always thought you would be doing with your life or has some unseen magnetism changed your course? And has that redirection come to seem inevitable? Edie Meidav and Emmalie Dropkin asked leading contemporary writers to consider these questions, which they characterize through the metaphor of “the strange attractor”, a scientific theory describing an inevitable occurrence that arises out of chaos. Meidav’s introduction and the thirty-five pieces collected here offer imaginative, arresting, and memorable replies to this query, including guidance from a yellow fish, a typewriter repairman, a cat, a moose, a bicycle, and a stranger on a train. Absorbing and provocative, this is nonfiction to be read in batches and bursts and returned to again and again.

Join us for a reading and discussion featuring Strange Attractors contributors Liesl Schillinger, Terese Svoboda, Danica Novgorodoff, Debbie DeFord Minerva, and Bonnie Friedman.


Liesl Schillinger is a literary critic, writer and translator, and teaches journalism and criticism at the New School in New York City. Her articles, reviews and essays have appeared in the New York TimesForeign Policy, the New York Review of BooksVogue, the Daily Beast, O, the New Yorker, the New Republic, the Washington Post, and other publications; and her short stories and literary translations have appeared in Playboy, Tin House, and Words without Borders. She has translated novels from the French and the German for Penguin Classics, Viking, and New York Review Books, and currently is writing a memoir and translating a French debut novel. She is the author of Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century. In 2017 she was named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France.

Terese Svoboda has published 18 books of fiction, poetry, memoir, biography, and a book of translation from the Nuer. Great American Desert, her second book of stories, appeared this March. In a starred review, Kirkus writes: “[Svoboda's] enigmatic sentences, elliptical narratives, and percussive plots delve into the possibilities of form, genre, and plausible futures, but always with an eye on the vast subterranean psychologies of her all-too-real creations."

Danica Novgorodoff is an artist, writer, graphic designer, and horse wrangler from Louisville, KY, currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Her books include A Late Freeze, Slow Storm, Refresh, Refresh (included in Best American Comics 2011), and The Undertaking of Lily Chen. Her art and writing has been published in Best American Comics, Artforum, Esquire, VQR, Slate, Orion, Seneca Review, Ecotone Journal, and many others. She was awarded a 2015 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in Literature, and was named Sarabande Books’ 2016 writer in residence. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, VCCA, Brush Creek, and Willapa Bay AiR. 

Debbie DeFord Minerva is a longtime copy editor at Penguin Random House. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College and a dual BA in English and psychology from the University of Michigan. She was named a Robin Hood Foundation Hero in 2015 for mentoring teens. Debbie lives with her family and pets in New York City, where she in-line skates daily and volunteers often.  This is her first publication.
Bonnie Friedman is the author of the widely anthologized Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer's Life, and most recently, Surrendering Oz: A Memoir in Essays, which was longlisted for the PEN Art of the Essay award.  Her work been included in The Best American Movie Writing, The Best Writing on Writing, and The Best Buddhist Writing.  
Emmalie Dropkin’s work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Electric Literature, and the Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal, and her fiction has been nominated for the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.