Jane Wong: How Non-Linearity Mirrors the Experience of Migration
In Conversation with Lindsay Hunter on I’m a Writer But
Welcome to I’m a Writer But, where writers discuss their work, their lives, their other work, the stuff that takes up any free time they have, all the stuff they’re not able to get to, and the ways in which any of us get anything done. Plus: book recommendations, bad jokes, okay jokes, despair, joy, and anything else going on that week. Hosted by Lindsay Hunter.
Today, Jane Wong reads from her new memoir, Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City, and discusses transforming her collection of essays into a non-linear memoir, “Wongmom.com,” working in poetry and prose, “writing up to the present,” writing the hard stuff, tonal shifts, and more!
From the episode:
Jane Wong: A lot of the chapters in the memoir were standalone essays. My wonderful editor [at Tin House], Elizabeth DeMeo, really pushed me to think through what this book would look like as a memoir. I was quite intimidated by this idea; it just felt daunting to me. I knew that I needed something that was going to act as a through-line throughout the book.
I was obsessed with this idea of non-linearity, especially as someone who teaches Asian American literature. I really think that non-linearity replicates, or mirrors, that experience of migration or tumult, or what it means to move across the country after so much trauma. I knew I couldn’t write a memoir that was going to be linear.
Jane Wong is the author of the poetry collections How to Not Be Afraid of Everything and Overpour. An associate professor of creative writing at Western Washington University, she grew up in New Jersey and currently lives in Seattle, Washington.