Marissa Korbel wrote her essay “Down Girl” to address a bad review by Alexandra Fuller of three female-authored memoirs received in the New York Times: Pam Houston’s ‘Deep Creek;’ Reema Zaman’s ‘I Am Yours, A Shared Memoir;’ and Sophia Shalmiyev’s ‘Mother Winter, A Memoir,’ and, more broadly, to discuss pandering and misogyny in literature.
“[The reviewer] basically called their books therapy,” one of my dinnermates summarizes. By which she means: the writers were doing something for themselves more than for the readers, writing to save themselves rather than to demonstrate that experience on the page as literature, as art, worthy of praise, writing that could be construed as private, emotional work, journaling of some sort, embarrassingly displayed for the world, a tumble of private details which do not—in the reviewer’s opinion—rise to literature
“Three women’s memoirs criticized for oversharing? I’m sure I’ve read this review before, and yet all three books are brand new. I’ve read two out of three of them, and I’ll take home Houston’s Deep Creek tonight. I take out my phone and search “NYT review Zaman.” Because Reema Zaman, a Portland-based writer, performer, and friend, is one of the reviewed.”