Editorial Outtakes is a feature in which we publish excerpts from recent books that you won’t find anywhere else because, prior the publication, these sections were cut. This installment of Editorial Outtakes features writer Mike Scalise, author of The Brand New Catastrophe, reflecting on some of the particularities of revealing character details in nonfiction. How does a writer of memoir go about depicting their own naiveté and youth authentically? How does a nonfiction writer avoid creating one-note characters in memoir when so many of us—especially when we’re young—ring the same emotional bells time and time again? And how, when you’re sick, do you recognize and reconcile all of the other things that are wrong with your life? […]
It is your luck to be the brother of three fat girls.
They have insisted on the moniker. “We are fat girls,” Elsie has told you. “If you don’t accept it, who will?”
“Don’t say that,” you have replied, hopelessly. “You’re beautiful,” and she has kissed your forehead wetly, like an aunt—she is thirteen years your senior; she relishes that word girls—and said, “Exactly.” […]