I saw a call for submissions to an anthology called TheShell Game based upon borrowed forms. For example using the platform of a recipe as a springboard into writing about something else. Just like last week we experimented with the LIST memoir, you can use ready-made forms such as directions to a restaurant to meander into a rant on how the date went.
From the webpage:
Within the recent explosion of creative nonfiction, a curious new sub-genre is quietly emerging. Hybrids in the truest sense, "hermit crab" essays borrow their structures from ordinary, extra-literary sources (a recipe, a police report, a pack of cards, an obituary…) to use as a framework for a lyric meditation on the chosen subject. In the best examples, the borrowed structures are less contrived than inevitable, managing not only to give shape to the work but to illuminate and exemplify its subject.
Here’s one that spoke to me—remember in Ladies Home Journal the column: Can this Marriage Be Saved? Even as a kid I read it. Here is an interesting story from the Bellingham Review based upon this concept.
Can This Troubled Marriage Be Saved: A Quiz
1. Which best describes your reasons for marrying him?
a. You have no idea. You were only twenty, too young to know what you were doing.
b. You have no idea. You were twenty, old enough to know better.
c. This is what you’re trying to figure out. You weren’t in love with him. You weren’t even attracted to him, even though he was a perfectly nice person, clean and wiry, his prematurely receding hairline and thick brows and goofy humor reminding you of a Muppet, sweet and cartoonish. You felt toward him a fraternal affection.
d. You were trying to somehow fill the emptiness that came over you at dusk the months after your first love disappeared.
e. Marriage seemed like a healthier refuge than drugs or drinking. You imagined escaping into it, like going to sleep and waking up a new person.
f. Your husband-to-be cried the day he confessed to sleeping with an old girlfriend. You were in bed with the flu, and you thought, oh, good. Now I don’t have to. He’d brought you milkshakes and roses; he’d played endless rounds of gin rummy. But now he was saying, “I’m so sorry.” You tried to shrug off the blankets, turn the pillow for a cool spot, but the bedclothes were weighed down by something: his head, burrowing into tousled sheets. That’s when you realized he was crying, pinning covers against your feverish skin. “It’s okay,” you said, patting his head.
g. You were saddened by his anguish, seeing in it your own anguish over your first love, seeing in it all the world’s unfulfilled longings.
h. He begged you to marry him, and you thought: he’s a good person. Someone in the world ought to get what he wants.
i. One evening you fell asleep while he was fondling your breasts, and you woke to find him wearing your bra tied to his head like a bonnet. And you thought: I could do worse than wake up every morning to someone who makes me laugh.
2. True or False: You sometimes feel like you don’t really exist.
Sometimes a recipe makes us remember—the people who handed it down to us, where we were when we made it, all the picnics or special suppers when we sat around a table and enjoyed the meal.
Right now write—a recipe memoir. A memoir based upon a borrowed form.
(Also see A Whole New Recipe)