Edie Meidav’s essay “The Dead Ones” is one of three in our 100th issue to receive a Notable from the 2015 Best American Essays. (The others are Katie Crouch’s “To Bloom, to Burst, to Blaze” and David L. Ulin’s “Green Shirt,” which we’ll be excerpting soon.) In richly textured prose, Meidav relates a homecoming to Berkeley and the end of life of a beloved mentor. “Then the question remains: must we carry the hearts of everyone until our heart,” she writes, “like a ship crowded with the memory of those who have left, eventually also sinks like they all did?”
Edie Meidav is the author of the novels “The Far Field,” “Crawl Space,” “Lola, California,” and the novel-in-progress “Dogs of Cuba.” She is the recipient of a Lannan Fellowship, a Howard Fellowship, the Kafka Prize for Best Fiction by an American Woman, the Bard Fiction Prize and other citations, and she teaches in the UMass Amherst MFA program.
Her essay “Cuba+Kids-Water” appeared in Issue No. 95. The following is an excerpt from “The Dead Ones.”
A past contributor to ZYZZYVA (her essay “Cuba+Kids-Water” ran in Issue No. 95), novelist Edie Meidav makes another welcome appearance in our pages, this time in our 100th issue. Her essay, “The Dead Ones,” takes her back to the home of her youth, the Bay Area.
When asked about the background of “The Dead Ones,” Meidav writes, “Sometimes I feel we have these hearts that are like ships crowded with all the people we love or once knew well—so the question becomes how crowded can your ship become?—and every time I beat a path of return to the Bay Area, walking certain streets in that balmy air, I feel both cradled and pierced by memories: the Bay Area is something of my pastoral. (I remember, now, Philip Roth talking about walking Newark before writing American Pastoral.) In the last few years, I kept walking near my former mentor’s house in a state of disbelief that all that vitality had vanished, her wit, her stockinged legs.”
The following is an excerpt from “The Dead Ones.” Edie Meidav will also be one of the readers at ZYZZYVA’s All Star Summer Celebration at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 17. You can RSVP your free ticket here. And you can order a copy of Issue No. 100 here.
Edie Meidav is the award-winning author of the novel Lola, California (Picador) and the forthcoming Dogs of Cuba. Raised in Berkeley, she’s a former director of the New College of California MA/MFA in writing and is now a writer-in residence at Bard College.
Her essay, “Cuba+Kids-Water,” appeared in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue. Humorous and thoughtful, it recounts Meidav’s experience when she temporarily relocated to Havana with her family so she could do research on Cuba’s boxers. It’s a propulsive read, partly due to Meidav’s prose style and partly due to the expectant sense she creates around her family’s living situation. But for all the wonderful surprises, there are less than cheery ones, too.
The following is an excerpt of “Cuba+Kids-Water.”