Weekend Reads: WPLongform Picks
This spring, we introduced the WPLongform tag, as we wanted to give bloggers who write longer pieces (of over 1,000 words) and longform readers a space within the WordPress.com Reader to share and discover new content, from nonfiction to fiction to experimental writing.
We’re glad to see many of you tagging your posts! The contributors at LibrarianShipwreck, for example, have begun to build an archive of essays under the WPLongform tag, commenting on trends in technology and the future of librarianship. Over at JT Weaver, the blogger writes stories about events that have shaped him into the person and father he has become, and has fittingly tagged many of his anecdotes with the WPLongform tag.
One great thing about this tag? It exposes us to stories we may not regularly seek out. In the WPLongform topic page, we recently stumbled upon a tribute to a young veteran, “Reporting for Duty, Sir,” which would otherwise be found by people specifically searching for posts tagged with “military” or “post-traumatic stress disorder.” By tagging it with WPLongform, Rod at Paving the Road Back is able to share this heartfelt, intimate piece with a larger audience — and those interested in diving into longer narratives, no matter the topic.
So, what else did we discover? From an evocative travel narrative set in India to a commentary on “cool” and Abercrombie & Fitch, here are three standouts:
Here, it wasn’t enough for travellers just to come and see and touch and experience. They came specifically to transform; to mould themselves into better people. As if the country — the Indiaaaaah of their imagination — was itself the chrysalis from which they would be reborn.
Jessica Lee, a freelance travel writer living in the Middle East, writes longform nonfiction narrative at her blog, Road Essays. (The Esquire theme works well with her longer pieces, doesn’t it?) In “Shaman, Swami, Sadhu, and Sham,” she paints a deeply sensuous picture of the India that many travelers expect the country to be — a place of redemption, of enlightenment — and does so with careful detail and style.
Jessica also knows how to keep her readers engaged — she mixes dialogue and short scenes with exposition and description, uses bold lead-in sentences to guide her narrative, and infuses herself into the piece as a character, yet lets India and her surroundings take over and be the focus.
I remember a large oak tree.
In the same way that the oak tree had no control over its leaves falling down and scattering in the wind, I could not keep my family from falling apart again.
The writer at Worthy Books & Things weaves a nostalgic story about her childhood, family, sister, and death. She crafts a sensory narrative composed of fragments, each starting with “I remember . . .” and the build up of these fragments — and memories — results in a beautiful piece about growing up and simply remembering. But it’s layered, and not all sweet — the writer deftly recounts a life that is at once beautiful but sad.
By drawing attention to his strategy, Jeffries was undermining the very allure of coolness that he had been trying, with considerable success, to cultivate.
He told us how hard his firm is trying to be cool. How very uncool.
Clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch recently made headlines after its CEO Mike Jeffries said in an interview that Abercrombie & Fitch is an exclusionary brand, targeting the cool and popular kids of America. In “Boys Together Clinging,” the writer at Breach of Close draws us in with the elusive idea of “cool” and dissects the discourse surrounding the story and the Abercrombie aesthetic.
The discussion pulls together responses to Jeffrie’s remarks, original commentary on the culture of cool, and more personal writing, too. Here, longform allows the blogger to dive deep into a topic and approach it from different angles.
If you’re looking for more reads for your weekend, visit the WPLongform topic page in the Reader.