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These writers have been greeted with a great deal of attention, yet there remains the anxious sense that to write about such topics is to risk forfeiting gravitas. Witt’s book is among the most personal of the bunch, offering up her perceptions of (and adventures in) the worlds of internet dating, internet pornography, orgasmic meditation and the kink industry. Witt’s book is her willingness to confess her unhappiness.“You can tell yourself different stories about why things are happening,” Ms. “I knew the story that I was telling myself — that I would eventually meet someone and get married — felt really false.And also, it just wasn’t happening.”And so, she headed to the West Coast to try to figure out some other way to be content, if it turns out that the romantic-comedy concept of love, with its perfect, permanent, tea-for-two ending, was not to be hers.“Part of why I wanted to write the book was that everything I read told me that my life was a question of luck and chance, and if it didn’t work out, if I didn’t meet somebody,” she said.Instead, this new crop of nonfiction seeks to blend personal writing with social analysis, to fashion some kind of philosophy about how we live, and love, now.Examples abound: Moira Weigel’s debut, “Labor of Love”; Kate Bolick’s dissection of singleness in her 2015 book, “Spinster”; Jessica Valenti’s recent memoir, “Sex Object”; Kristin Dombek’s starkly original take on threesomes in The Paris Review.“This is a moment when people like to take pictures of their perfect lives, and I don’t think there’s much pressure on a perfect life to be anything but old-fashioned and conventional,” he said. Stein’s observations is an animating spirit throughout Ms. at Yale in the joint program of Comparative Literature and Film and Media Studies, is an academic by training, and uses the comprehensive research and dispassionate analytic style that she has honed in school. ” only to realize with horror how absurd it was that, every inch the self-respecting, educated writer and thinker, she still craved guidance from a man on this most individual of questions.Witt’s book: her quest to find some kind of new arrangement, even while she harbors a fierce attachment to the old ones.“Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating,” by Moira Weigel, is, like Ms. It wasn’t until the end of the process of writing her book that Ms. She includes the story in the first pages of her book; it’s one of the few explicitly personal exchanges she relays. Weigel, the entire process felt “urgent” and intensely personal, she told me, because the questions of how people relate to each other romantically were the ones she cared about.“I really wanted to take the subjects of love, sex and dating seriously and felt keenly aware of the trap that I had seen many young female writers pushed into, when they were encouraged to focus on ‘personal’ subjects.At 30, the writer Emily Witt found herself single and heartbroken, but also suddenly intent on examining the mythology around how life for women is supposed to be.
Their books are a departure from the raw, unfiltered confessional writing that the internet seems to have fostered in recent years: inward-focused pieces on abortions and addictions and affairs we have gotten used to clicking on, or past.Witt’s book, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Weigel, 31, offers a different angle on love — and a different sensibility. Weigel was compelled to delve into the moment it all began. Particularly potentially titillating subjects,” Ms. Weigel later wrote in an email.“It’s this weird double bind, isn’t it: On the one hand, it’s as if editors and readers don’t trust young women to know about anything other than their own lives.And then on the other hand we are often asked — structural sexism asks us — to speak for all women, any time we write.The latter is of course an impossible demand, and so many female writers are criticized when they (inevitably) fall short.”The British writer Olivia Laing isn’t exactly thrilled to be grouped into the category of women who write about matters of love and sex.She was in Cambridge, England, when I reached her to discuss her approach to the personal.Laing said that: “there is a culture of confessional memoirs that I’m super-wary of.As soon as you use an ‘I’ — especially if you’re a woman — you’re on shaky ground.“The big hurdle was my parents reading stuff, because we had maintained this fiction about what my life was that was really comfortable for everybody.Which was not really talking about how dating is.”When Ms.Witt began writing, she was nervous and reticent, and wrote in the third person.“I didn’t want to reveal a lot of myself,” she said.