This past Friday Margaret and I stayed home from work to do our taxes. I think most would agree this is naturally a sort of depressing undertaking but for two artists who haven't quite yet monetized their enterprises it can come bundled with deep review of life-decisions, adding in turn to the register of depression. The table was spread with receipts - a burrito I bought in Idaho when I attended the Boise Film Fest; some gas Margaret bought en route to Seattle for LitFix etc - true artifacts of living the dream. Right smack in the middle of that the phone rings and it's the Pen New England Foundation calling to inform Margaret that she was selected as a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway this year.
Shortly thereafter we found ourselves out of the house drinking champagne for lunch.
Margaret hasn't had the traditional sort of writing career trajectory. She doesn't hold an MFA from a prestigious program, much less at all. She's not a veteran of the A-list writing colonies and fellowships. (Now, granted being veteran of those corridors doesn't guarantee anything but it seems/feels like lot of awards at this level share some commmonality of authorial career heritage.) Margaret has worked on PEOPLE LIKE YOU in various forms/iterations across a decade plus while also managing day jobs, pregnancies, variety of spousal issues, child-rearing et cetera. So to have her book recognized at this level is a gut-punch (if there's a way you can see a gut-punch as really really awesome) especially because Atelier26 her publisher is about as indie as they come (current staff: 2). This means one can safely deduce the award is solely on the merits of the work, which is incredible. Yes, all awards probably should just be on the merits but other factors leach in (consciously or not) and the deck can feel stacked so it can breed cynicism (note: in people like me). Margaret getting this recognition feels like a deserved tax credit in the universal balance sheet after years of programmed systemic penalty. Also, it is possible. It can be done. It is all worth it.
Okay, I am a biased party obviously but you should know this about Margaret if you don't already: She is a force in both the artistic and actual sides of this whole ride. In addition to being a ridiculously talented writer I have never met anyone in this world with deeper reserves of kindness, charity, humanism. She's authentic, hilarious, self-deprecating, inspiring, singular just like her book PEOPLE LIKE YOU which you should consider giving a read. (Trailer below!)
put another way: Margaret!!! Yahoo!!!!!
More at Margaret Malone's website here