online magazine for short, good writing

Category: This Week in Words

This Week in Words – March 3

by Treehouse Editors

Rachel Bondurant

AWP 2018 is gearing up to start in a week. Oh, how I long to be there. Are you going to Tampa? If so, Barrelhouse has a list of things to do and not do at their table. As a side note, if you’re not following Barrelhouse on Twitter, what are you doing with your life?

You know what the world needs? More subscription boxes. Wait, allow me to be more specific. What does the world need? More subscription boxes for writers. I don’t know about you, but I love getting mail. And I especially love getting mail pertaining to this magical, insufferable craft. Scribbler is the one I’ve subscribed to. It’s brand new, brought to you by actual published authors, and full of all sorts of delightful writerly crap. Real talk: I’ve done no research in this area, so if you know of other boxes for writers, stop hoarding the treasure and share with us.

The other day, someone I know casually presented me with a fantastically terrible piece of writing a published author friend of hers wrote. It was a short little sample chapter beginning about a woman, so obviously written by a man that it should have been a joke. It reminded me of this Twitter hall-of-famer. And that led me to discover this. Don’t get me wrong; I’d love for sexism to get solved, but then…who would we laugh at for being terrible?

Update on my almost-a-book-club project: Lolita. If you haven’t read this book, you must. It’s so well-written, and it’s actually funny. Most importantly, it will make you feel all kinds of things that you don’t want to feel. I hate myself for loving it so far, and I’m not sorry about any of it. My friends are thoroughly enjoying the audiobook version, by the way, which is narrated by Jeremy Irons. He played H.H. in the 1997 movie adaptation, so that’s why, but it’s still impossible not to imagine the story being told by Scar from The Lion King.

This Week in Words — January 27

by Treehouse Editors

by Rachel Bondurant

Lock your doors and windows, everybody. This week we’re talking about my favorite secret obsession: crime.

Fun fact: I was a criminology major before I was a lit major. So perhaps my obsession with crime is not so secret as I like to pretend.

In any case, I’ve been (possibly unhealthily) immersed in my new favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder for the last week. How have I only just discovered this magical gem of all things delightfully morbid?? The plus side of being late to the game is that I have literal years of episodes to binge. Join me on this deadly adventure, won’t you?

Everyone’s heard of the Black Dahlia, but there are several other true crime stories on this list that I hadn’t heard before. Also, you learn other fun things, like one Mr. Adolph Coors was allergic to beer.

Not to leave any medium out, there are a lot of true crime shows on the streaming services. I won’t say there are too many–can there ever be too many?–but there’s no shortage. Here’s a list of several on Netflix (full disclosure: this is from last fall, so if any of these are no longer available, please send all complaints to Netflix). The only one I’ve seen personally is The Keepers, which I can confidently say was dark and depressing and super compelling. (Sorry I haven’t watched Making a Murderer yet. I’m getting to it, I swear.)

Honorable mention to Autopsy on HBO. I promise it’s not about performing autopsies, except in the context of how crimes can be solved by doing so.

Lastly, I’m including this review of Denis Johnson’s previously mentioned collection just released…literally, just because the title of the review has the word “death” in it.

Got a favorite podcast/series/documentary/book about crime, true or otherwise? Please, for the love of all things that go bump in the night, share them with me. I cannot get enough.

This Week in Words — January 20

by Treehouse Editors

by Rachel Bondurant

When I sat down to write this new (surely long-awaited) installment of TWIW, I spent an embarrassingly long time debating whether to make a fuss over the return of Treehouse. But, alas, no words came. Instead, what arose in my mind every time I tried to start this piece was the theme song to Welcome Back, Kotter.

Just…”Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back,” with the emphasis on a different syllable every repetition.

So. Thus, I begin.

With the turn of a new year comes, inevitably, a new assortment of reading (and—behold: writing!) challenges. In 2017, I entered an arbitrary number into my Goodreads Reading Challenge: 52. Not so arbitrary, it turns out. I failed.

Ehhh, sort of. I have a habit of rereading much beloved series that I own, and I didn’t count those. So probably I blew through that 52-count finish line, but I did it by cheating.

This year, I’m taking a different approach. I own a lot of books. And almost 40 of them, I’ve never read (see: previously mentioned rereading habit). So my 2018 reading challenge is to read as many of those books as possible. Take my idea, if you want. Seems a pretty obvious challenge, I admit, but feel free to name it after me anyway.

Speaking of books to read, this month is a pretty solid one for new releases. Quite appropriately, a collection of previously unpublished Denis Johnson stories, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, was released this week. Nearly six years ago, just after Treehouse launched (the first time), we featured a retrospective of Jesus’ Son. Nice of his work to make a reappearance just as we do. (Bonus: You can read the titular story of the new release here.)

(As an aside, I’m also stoked to read Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists and Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan.)

I’ve recently made the rather daunting—and more than a little reckless—switch from Person Who Writes to Professional Freelance Writer. As encouragement, a friend gifted me a book of collected blog posts from John Scalzi’s aptly titled blog, Whatever. The book, You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop, features a few handfuls of posts about the professional writing life. Some of it is advice. A lot of it is funny. All of it is useful. One would think you can find the same posts on his blog, but (speaking as someone who didn’t pay for the book) I do enjoy having the highlights handed to me in a tidy little bundle.

And, finally…please enjoy this shameless self-serving shout-out:

Treehouse’s current Brief Encounters theme is, without irony, “New Beginnings.” We’ve raised the curtain unto our own new beginning; now tell us about yours. Born again? New job? Recently awakened as a human-sized cockroach? We want to hear your story. Give it here.

This Week in Words – March 8

by Treehouse Editors

by Rachel Bondurant

Aaand we’re back!  Just a couple of announcements today.

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome three new readers to our crew:

Nancy Conger has an MFA in Creative Writing and used to be a reader for the Vermont Studio Center.  She’s been published and has worked in editing and publishing, so she knows the drill.

Christine Houser reads, writes, studies, and teaches creative nonfiction in Seattle.  She also blogs at Flash Memoirs, where she’s featured past Treehouse contributor Kerry Headley’s story, “The Rooster.”  You can follow her on Twitter @flashmemoirs.

Simon Alford is sixteen and loves to read and loves Treehouse.  What more could you ask for in a reader than that?

We’re thrilled to have you all on board, and we’re excited to work with you!

As I’ve already mentioned on Twitter, submissions are back open.  And we’re bringing you brand new never-before-seen creative material on Monday.  All is once again right with the world.

This Week in Words – Dec 21

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

We’re still in the market for readers, so send me an e-mail at if you’re interested!

Coming up this week: some holiday goodness from us here at Treehouse.

And because it’s Christmas, I only have this to say.

And this.

And also, of course: Happy Holidays.

This Week in Words – Nov 30

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

Follow Rob Delaney on Twitter. I just discovered him by reading Mark Peters’s “Best Joke Ever” column for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. What’s Delaney’s best joke? Go read the piece and find out, you bum. I can’t do all the work for you.

This is happening. And we’re all guilty of it. Because peer pressure.

A triptych about salt? Yes, please. Thank you, Kate Angus.

My reading recommendation this week? Treehouse submissions. We’re in the market for a couple of readers to join the crew. Want to help? Shoot me a brief e-mail explaining why you want to be a part of our team (you can say it’s for the money, but full disclosure: that won’t get you paid any faster). You can include a resume and a piece of your own writing if you want to, but it isn’t necessary. We just need people who love to read and who can offer up an opinion that doesn’t end with “I liked it,” or “I didn’t.” E-mail address is Give me a clue in the subject line what you’re e-mailing about. We’re only looking for two readers – three tops – so first come, first serve.

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving.

This Week in Words – Nov 9

by Treehouse Editors

compiled by Rachel Bondurant

How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Find out here.

Blockbuster Video is closing its doors. (Maybe because the word “video” is no longer relevant?) I’m really going to miss those 4 for $20 DVDs. And absurdly large boxes of candy. In case you weren’t a frequenter of Blockbuster (or are not old enough to really get it, in which case I say to you: ugh), this sums it up nicely.

Margaret Atwood doesn’t have the time for book blurbs anymore, so don’t ask. But if you do, at least she’s poetic when she tells you no.

Anybody who has worked in an office or gone on any kind of retreat can sympathize with this story. Because — who are we kidding? — we’ve all thought about it and you know it.

“Marsupial.” “Spelunking.” “Financial advice.” “Custom ringtones.” “Fuck. Or…rat bastard.”