3 women walk into a bar

full disclosure:
i was one of 3 judges for the PEN/USA literary (non-fiction) award this year. (the award will be presented on november 17th)

it was one of those experiences where you say, “yeah, sure, absolutely definitely thrilled to do it,” and then… then, you wanna shoot yourself for overextending. especially, oh my god, especially when three large cartons arrive via fed-ex filled with books.
hardcover, trade paperback, small, big, 200 pages, 500 pages. memoirs. non-fiction. real, true stories. each and every one.
piles of books. you stare at the books and think, “what the fuck was i thinking?” maybe it was the ambien. maybe i said yes when I was in a groggy REM state, “yeah, sure, why not, send them on.” and then you go through the pile and think, hmmm, not one of these books is mine. then jealousy and rage and envy take over. and after that unpleasant stage passes, you dig in & start reading.

but really, truly this isn’t about getting cartons of books. or being overlooked.
this is about 3 women from 3 different cities who did not know each other at all, who did not share one spoken word, not one glass of wine, not one recipe (okay that’s stretching it), 3 women who agreed more often than not, disagreed on occasion, agreed some more, re-read, whined a bit, re-read again, complained a teeny bit, fought for those we deeply loved (to the death), tossed out the ones we didn’t (with ease), a pile here, a pile there, held our ground, coined a few new phrases, and managed to pick 4 books (one winner, 3 finalists) that make you believe that every human being has a story to tell, and good god when it’s told with audacity and humanity and a raw, brutal honesty you realize, holy shit, wow, how lucky did i get get – i get to read all these gorgeous books. and the best part … even though we never talked, we never met … we picked brilliant amazing memoirs by brilliant writers, all of them. with great ease, and unity.
3 women worked seamlessly to pick a couple of pieces of work that hopefully will make a difference in this world.

and i might add that sharon doubiago & samantha dunn made a huge difference in mine.

so, here’s to women.
we rock.
and fucking roll.

Category: Uncategorized 4 comments »

4 Responses to “3 women walk into a bar”

  1. Madge Woods

    Wow. They should be honored to have you be a judge.

  2. Hollye Dexter

    YOU rock Miss Amy.
    What an experience…It sounds like Heaven to have to read cartons of books ( and of course that’s because I’ve never had to do it.)

  3. Barbara@The Middle Ages

    I had a similar experience when I was asked to be one of several judges for a Television category for our national awards. It was all those feelings you describe (although for TV there probably aren’t as many man-hours).

    It’s an extraordinary business to closely examine the best (and not always) of the creative world. And what an honour. Congrats, Amy.

  4. Maxee

    WHEW!!! A carton of books to read and re-read and judge with 2 other incredible women!!! WOW!!! What an exhausting but wonderful experience.
    I am so happy for you, and for all your amazing endeavors, and there are many of them.
    One thing is for sure,………………AMY FERRIS does make a difference!

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