The new Utne Reader…

…has reprinted my essay “Services Pending,” from The Iowa Review. It’s my first grocery-store/dentist-office magazine publication. This one is especially sweet as I’ve been a UR fan since college. If you’ve never read it, the Utne Reader is a roundup of essays and articles from lit journals and magazines–an analogue lit blog, if you will. There’s an awesomely weird piece of art in the story–a drawing of a young woman sitting at her computer, surrounded by ghosts of, among other things, cowboys. The funny thing is, the girl looks like me, or how I looked when I was working the obits desk. Spooky. Also spooky: It suddenly occurs to me that my own obit, which I wrote for the essay, has now been published twice. Universe: please disregard.

3 thoughts on “The new Utne Reader…

  1. Susan, we read your “Services Pending,” on our discussion group, so far everyone liked it. A lot! Congratulations on such good work.


  2. Good morning … I’m a long-time member of an on-line writer critique group, The Internet Writing Workshop. One sub-group discusses creative nonfiction, and this week we all read “Services Pending.” There’s about 30 of us who actively participate in that portion of the workshop, and I don’t think there has been one negative comment about the essay. Many in the group have been published in prominent venues, which may be of no real import other than the essay was closely read, analyzed, and appreciated for its craft.

    One of the older (in age) members of the group, a man well-published, was especially thrilled because he thinks writing about “work” is an important step for a writer.

    I’ve tried it myself, writing about the job I did the longest, but the essay has ballooned into a creative nonfiction mini-novella, a bloated 7,000 words.

    All the best. I thought you might like to know a couple of dozen people read your work on-line and appreciated it.

    And that makes me think about an essay of T C Boyle’s we read in the NYTIMES. I was so curious about his use of the word “sanguine” that I found a forum where he participated and asked him about which meaning of the word he meant to apply. “Blood red, blooky?” Or “optimistic and cheerful?”

    His reply was, “Yes.”


  3. Paul and Gary, thank you so much! Thanks for reading the essay in the first place and for taking the time to come here and comment. It really means a lot to me.

    Gary: I agree–writing about work is important. It’s where we spend all our time. Making it interesting is another challenge completely. I’m working on other essays about work and that’s the biggest challenge for me. But I think work is inherently strange if we can step out of it enough to look at it somewhat objectively. Still, the time I spent temping at an insurance agency is going to be hard to write about!

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