Litro Book Review: Another Justified Sinner by Sophie Hopesmith

In Sophie Hopesmith’s debut novel, Another Justified Sinner, commodities trader Marcus aims to get square with God. Having wished his girlfriend dead – wish granted – Marcus picks his way through each of the Ten Commandments, often forced to be creative, e.g. poisoning several fish re ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill,’ but, after arriving at the tenth and final commandment, he decides the entire point of God is forgiveness; certainly if Marcus can forgive God for killing his girlfriend, Nancy, then God can in turn forgive Marcus for his ten most recent sins.

You can read the rest of the review here.

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‘The View From Here’ Essay on Women Are Boring

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My essay ‘The View from Here: Fighting Disillusionment as an American Expatriate‘ is featured on Women Are Boring, a wonderful platform for women in all fields of academia—definitely check out some of the other essays and interviews!

I was wearing an Esmeralda crewneck sweatshirt the first time I heard someone say the President should be ashamed of himself. I was either reading or spinning around in circles, and I liked Esmeralda best because she looked most like me. There were at least three adults, perched like gargoyles on the couch edge and they, along with a sizeable portion of America, were all at once captivated and scandalized; the 42nd President of the United States had brought shame upon all our kettle black homes. I had yet to understand the difference between peaches and impeachment, and in twenty years time I would be an expatriate.

I was an expat before America changed hands, before Bernie Sanders was officially out of the running, before Hillary Clinton was deemed a ‘nasty woman.’ America felt to me considerably far away during my Master’s program in England where I was writing a short story collection and finalizing PhD applications, still trying to decide if it was weird to put milk in my tea. In the postgraduate pub or university café, I was often asked how was allowing this to happen—‘this’ being the rise of Donald Trump—and I responded, with my significantly less charming accent, that held much less clout than they assumed. And yet, it was unnerving how guilty I felt, how relieved, to be so far away from America. I busied myself with PhD applications asking that I demonstrate my intentions: my plan to contribute something new and significant to academia and why. This portion of the applications felt timely; in my case wanting to contribute something significant meant being present, from afar, in the matters of America. While the critical and creative aspects of my proposed novel materialized, I returned again and again to that awareness of guilty-relief, which did not add to my work as much as it hindered it.

‘A Stone Fox’ in Litro Magazine

[Santa Monica Pier. An entire funnel cake is wedged between the wooden slats: dough pressed deep into the split grooves, an echo of footsteps visible through a thick layer of powdered sugar. A seagull stabs at a corndog while two friends sit together. The friends blink against the glare on the water. One is remembering; one is listening.]

He says, ‘I remember the sound of grass piercing through the blanket and although it was softer than, say, straw it was still much sharper than any blanket should be. I didn’t have anything else in the car and I didn’t want to do it in the backseat. Hey, can you pass that? And it was the middle of the day. Thanks. The grass left small impressions on her knees and palms and it made me feel sort of disgusted, you know? Like maybe her skin would stay that way, speckled with dents and shallow holes. Then I pulled a piece of grass from her hair and ran it over her bottom lip knowing that it would tickle, that she would be excited but also slightly petulant, you know the way they can be, and I watched the white of her teeth tug at her mouth, green stained hands resting on my chest, changing everything. You know that line from The Virgin Suicides, man? I was her James Franco, I fucking swear.’

You can read the rest of ‘A Stone Fox’ here.

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Your Free Speech Does Not Eclipse Mine: The Problem of Harassment as an Accepted Form of Expression—via HuffPost Women

A few years ago, after a charming fellow messaged me about slapping my face with his penis, I deleted my Twitter account and made my other social media accounts private. Instagram was the first to go following an eloquent quip involving the commenter’s penis and my eye socket—on a photo of me holding a kitten. At the time, I assumed the comment was aimed at me; in retrospect, it is very possible it had nothing to do with me. In which case, I hope that kitten is somewhere safe.

You can find my recent essay on feminism, social media harassment, and free speech on The Huffington Post.