Wanting: Women Writing About Desire (Paperback)
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An intimate and empowering anthology of essays that explore the changing face of female desire in whip-smart, sensuous prose, with pieces by Tara Conklin, Camille Dungy, Melissa Febos, Lisa Taddeo, and others
What is desire? And what are its rules? In this daring collection, award-winning and emerging female writers share their innermost longings, in turn dismantling both personal and political constructs of what desire is or can be.
In the opening essay, Larissa Pham unearths the ache beneath all her wants: time. Rena Priest’s desire for a pair of five-hundred-dollar cowboy boots spurs a reckoning with her childhood on the rez and the fraught history of her hometown. Other pieces in the collection turn cultural tropes around dating, sex, and romance on their heads—Angela Cardinale tries dating as a divorced mother of two in the California suburbs only to discover sweet solace in being alone; Keyanah B. Nurse finds power in polyamory; and when Joanna Rakoff spots a former lover at a bar, the heat between them unravels her family as she is pulled into his orbit—an undoing, she decides, that’s worth everything.
Including pieces by Tara Conklin, Torrey Peters, Camille Dungy, Melissa Febos, Lisa Taddeo, and so many others, these candid and insightful essays tackle the complicated knot of women’s desire.
Featuring essays by Elisa Albert, Kristen Arnett, Molly McCully Brown, Angela Cardinale, Tara Conklin, Sonia Maria David, Jennifer De Leon, Camille T. Dungy, Melissa Febos, Amber Flame, Amy Gall, Aracelis Girmay, Sonora Jha, Nicole Hardy, Laura Joyce-Hubbard, TaraShea Nesbit, Keyanah B. Nurse, Torrey Peters, Amanda Petrusich, Larissa Pham, Rena Priest, Joanna Rakoff, Karen Russell, Domenica Ruta, Susan Shapiro, Terese Svoboda, Lisa Taddeo, Ann Tashi Slater, Abigail Thomas, Merritt Tierce, Michelle Wildgen, Jane Wong, and Teresa Wong
About the Author
MARGOT KAHN is the author of Horses That Buck, the biography of world-champion rodeo cowboy “Cody” Bill Smith, and a collection of poems, A Quiet Day with the West on Fire. She is coeditor, along with Kelly McMasters, of the New York Times Editors’ Choice anthology This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home, and her essays and reviews have appeared in The Rumpus, Lenny Letter, Publishers Weekly, and Bust, among other places. An Ohio native, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son.
KELLY McMASTERS is the author of the forthcoming The Leaving Season: A Memoir and Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town, the basis for the documentary film The Atomic States of America. She is coeditor, along with Margot Kahn, of This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home, and her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, The American Scholar, and River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. McMasters is an essayist, professor, mother, and former bookshop owner living in New York.
Literary Hub, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year
Zibby's Mag, A Most Anticipated Book of 2023
"Superb essayists congregate on the pages in this brilliant, vibrant collection of thoughts and confessions." —Zibby Owens, Good Morning America
"Eclectic . . . Karen Russell, Larissa Pham, Lisa Taddeo, Amanda Petrusich, Camille Dungy, and other writers quarrel with this notion of desire as a suppressed emotion, which as a reading experience feels less concerned with stepping over the line than with assessing the reaction of the player on the other side. Yet the diversity of desires (and writing techniques) raises the cumulative effect of Wanting to the level of triumphant." —J. Howard Rosier, Vulture
"If the desire for selfhood is the beating heart of this collection of personal essays, the anthology also pulses with the relationship between wanting and writing, demonstrating how desire propels the urge to create . . . The thirty-three contributors to Wanting risk sharing their desires on the page in empowering personal essays that demonstrate astonishing courage, but also craft, making it an anthology that reveals the relationship between wanting and body, mind, and heart, yes, but also between wanting and voice." —Kaitlyn Teer, Ploughshares
"In Wanting, the essays don’t just address sexual desires, as some people might assume from the title. Instead, they discuss desires of all kinds: time and money, having children and families, being a caretaker, having the freedom to express oneself fully, shielding young people from the horrors of violence, buying a car, relishing the possibilities new love brings with it, and ushering in the start of a better world, among other different kinds of yearning . . . After each essay finishes, you’re left with an overwhelming feeling of familiarity and compassion for the writers whose works are included in Wanting. The best essays in the collection . . . illustrate the myriad ways our cravings and our willingness to articulate them often lead to new understandings about ourselves, about the people around us, about the influence we have on the world around us, about how the world influences us, and about the opportunities available to us when we choose to share them . . . Over and over again, the essays in Wanting prove Kahn and McMasters’s claim about the power of speaking our desires out loud is true, not just because it helps us fully realize them but because it gives other people power to do the same." —Stef Rubino, Autostraddle
"An intimate and empowering anthology of essays that explore the changing face of female desire in whip-smart, sensuous prose, with pieces by Tara Conklin, Camille Dungy, Melissa Febos, Lisa Taddeo, and others." —Kailey Brennan Dellorusso, Write or Die Magazine
“Erotic desire is, unsurprisingly, a prominent theme here. And yet, each individual handling of the topic feels fresh and revelatory, a testament to the diversity of perspectives these editors have gathered . . .There’s an inherent pleasure in reading about desire. It is, after all, what gives narrative literature its stakes, keeping us hooked as we root our protagonists on. To proceed through Wanting is to be swept up, again and again, into moments of urgency, which makes it the only literary essay collection I’ve encountered that I could accurately describe as a page-turner. But beyond this delight, what sets Wanting apart is how uniformly artful these essays are: insightful and poetic, thought-provoking and stirring. They do what all great essays do, which is to push beyond surfaces and make space for complication. Female wanting, in these writers’ hands, isn’t something to conceal or deny, chase or extinguish, but something to value in its own right because, quite simply, it is ours.” —Nicole Graeve Lipson, Chicago Review of Books
"In reading Wanting, I found camaraderie in the sheer breadth and diversity of that solitary longing, and catharsis in seeing the rawness of that longing so openly expressed on the page . . . No anthology can fully capture the multiplicity of women’s desires, but in just over 300 pages, Wanting really does have something for everyone." —Mara Filey, The Rumpus
"The book is impossible to put down. With abundant candor and grace, every piece is a courageous gift." —Booklist
"The essays in this voluptuous, multivarious volume comprise an essential compendium of female desire." —Michelle Hart, An Electric Literature Most Anticipated Book of 2023
"In Wanting, writer-editors Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters have collected 33 deeply intimate and thoughtful essays by women writers on the range of what constitutes desire . . . Wanting is at its best when it's demonstrating the wide scope of what desire can mean, what forms it can take and what its object might be. Like the wide range of topics in this collection, the styles here are a potpourri of prose, wistful and tender one minute, razor-sharp and raw the next . . . Wanting is a wide-ranging collection about desire by women writers that is, like wanting itself, haunting, poignant, vicious, meditative and hopeful, all at once." —Alice Martin, Shelf Awareness
"Editors Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters offer a thought-provoking collection that deserves to be talked about by readers." —Library Journal (starred review)
"An impassioned anthology of women’s perspectives on desire . . . The wide-ranging essays reflect the diversity of their authors while sharing a captivating rawness and sincerity. The result is a striking and powerful compendium on the multifaceted nature of longing." —Publishers Weekly
"A stunning collection that will change your life, Wanting is a deep excavation into desire's endless forms and perspectives. No anthology has moved, thrilled, and expanded me as much as this one, delivering essay after essay that shifts desire's ground from under its reader's feet. True to its own subject, Wanting is sure to leave you hungry for more." —Meredith Talusan, author of Fairest