Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Regular Guys: Emily Freeman

Emily Freeman is a close friend of mine and a great writer of both fiction and nonfiction. One of my favorite of her essays is called Regular Guys and was published in June 2008 in the online Morning News, which publishes a lot of essays.

While our friends pursued internships in air-conditioned city buildings, or lounged around their parents’ suburban pools, we stuck around Ann Arbor and spent our summer days hot and dirty, in mandated steel-toed boots.

Essay Endings and "Big Ideas"
(SPOILER ALERT: Read the essay before continuing.)

At the end of Regular Guys Emily writes: "I remember pushing my shovel along in a steady line, and the way that the grating rush of metal against cement was momentarily and beautifully punctuated by the contents of each room I passed. . . . It was like walking past a series of discrete but connected snapshots offering only a momentary flash of the sublime that was being created inside. And as one sound faded another began, but they never overlapped."

I asked Emily, did she consciously mean to say that she did not overlap with Drew / her type of woman did not overlap with his type of guy? Or did she cast around until something kind of seemed to fit without real "this is my message/Big Idea" intent?

She responded: I had that shoveling-past-the-practice rooms experience before I dated Drew (or after, I can't remember), and it was one of those moments that I thought was so magical and had to someday be written about (this was back when I wasn't really writing, just dreaming about writing and occasionally jotting down writing-worthy moments/ideas). As far as its meaning in the essay: it just kind of showed me its double-meaning, if that makes any sense. And I like that it works either as a statement on class or just as an observation of something beautiful.

You can read a short story of Emily's in Best New American Voices 2010. Keep an eye out for more of her work.

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