Ada Calhoun

Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give – Out May 16, 2017

Posted in Ada, Writing by Ada Calhoun on September 13, 2016

19MODERNLOVE-master1050W.W. Norton & Co. just announced the pub date for my collection of essays, Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give, based on my Modern Love column from last year. Here’s the book description:

Poignant and witty essays on the beautiful complexity of marriage.

Inspired by her wildly popular New York Times essay “The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give,” Ada Calhoun provides a funny (but not flip), smart (but not smug) take on the institution of marriage. Weaving intimate moments from her own married life with frank insight from experts, clergy, and friends, she upends expectations of total marital bliss to present a realistic—but ultimately optimistic—portrait of what marriage is really like. There will be fights, there will be existential angst, there may even be affairs; sometimes you’ll look at the person you love and feel nothing but rage. Despite it all, Calhoun contends, staying married is easy: just don’t get divorced. Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give offers bracing straight talk to the newly married and honors those who have weathered the storm. This exploration of modern marriage is at once wise and entertaining, a work of unexpected candor and literary grace.

Available now for pre-order via Amazon.

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NYTBR: Review of Lonely City by Olivia Laing

Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on March 18, 2016

 

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Todd Heisler/NY Times

The Book of Common Prayer offers an intercession for “our families, friends and neighbors, and for those who are alone.” We tend to put the alone in this separate category, but for Olivia Laing, “the essential unknowability of others” means that to be human is to be lonesome, at least sometimes. So why don’t we talk about it more openly? “What’s so shameful,” she asks, about “having failed to achieve satisfaction, about experiencing unhappiness?” This daring and seductive book — ostensibly about four artists, but actually about the universal struggle to be known — raises sophisticated questions about the experience of loneliness, a state that in a crowded city provides an “uneasy combination of separation and exposure.” Read the rest of the review here.

 

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NewYorker.com: The Mid-Manhattan Library

Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on March 4, 2016

Calhoun-Mid-Manhattan-Library1-690x460-1455908266I waxed all romantic about the seedy Mid-Manhattan Library.

“…While each of these branches has something unique to offer, the one I keep circling back to is the Mid-Manhattan. I tell myself it’s because they have an incredible selection of books in open stacks, cheerful librarians and guards, and a surprising trove of city services (last year, I applied for my IDNYC there). But really I think it’s because of the library’s waiting-room-at-the-end-of-the-world sense of freedom. I gave a book talk there recently, and it was one of the most engaged crowds I’ve ever spoken to. One woman in the front row cheered as if she were at a rock concert. To me, she exemplified the Mid-Manhattan spirit: a little daffy, infinitely welcoming.” Read the whole thing here.

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O Magazine: The Joys of Using a Fake Name

Posted in Ada, Freelance, St. Marks Place, Writing by Ada Calhoun on October 13, 2015

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In the November 2015 issue of O magazine, there’s a photo of me along with a little essay about writing and living under an assumed name. Yes, they let me keep this “Hello My Name Is” T-shirt AND a name necklace. Thank you, Oprah.

Also: this is the book I’m talking about in the essay.

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The Atlantic: The High Stakes of Wisconsin’s “Cocaine Mom” Law

Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on October 12, 2015

I wrote this Atlantic story about a woman suing to repeal a unique 1997 Wisconsin law about drug use during pregnancy.

Loertscher has received national attention as one of very few to pushback successfully against a slew of punitive laws, many enacted in the past several years, that have targeted pregnant women. She never guessed she’d become a symbol of resistance. Growing up in a small, working-class industrial town in northern Wisconsin, Loertscher dreamed of being an astronaut. But until recently, she’d barely even made it out of the state, where she found work in the healthcare system. In Wisconsin, she fell in love with a local boy, Dondi Ellner, who had been around the world as a musician—and even knew how to cook. They moved in together and shared his niece’s house. Things were good for a while, and then not so much.

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NY Mag’s The Cut: Vintage Shopping Isn’t What It Used to Be

Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on September 6, 2015

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When I was in high school in the 1990s East Village, buying used clothes was part of a shopping culture founded on the twin pillars of research and serendipity. I carried around a wish list, to which I added recommendations from liner notes and from people I was hoping to sleep with… Read the whole thing here.

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Narratively: The Fox Sisters

Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on September 1, 2015

Card-Hydesville-1848Narratively published this story I wrote about the Fox Sisters, who invented American Spiritualism in 1848. While researching, I spent some time in Rochester, where I visited the old foundation of the family’s home, now a holy site for Spiritualists, and met super-helpful historian Chris Davis of the Newark-Arcadia Historical Society. There’s going to be a Fox Sisters movie based on a 1936 New Yorker story. Meanwhile, below is a Fox Sisters bibliography I put together. Go here to read the full story.

Abbott, Karen. “The Fox Sisters and the Rap on Spiritualism,” Smithsonian, October 30, 2012.

Aventi, Anthony. “Chapter 16: Rochester Rap: The First Haunted House,” in Behind the Crystal Ball: Magic, Science, and the Occult from Antiquity Through the New Age. New York: Times Books, 1996.

Ballou, Adin. An Exposition of Views Respecting the Principal Facts, Causes and Peculiarities Involved in Spirit Manifestations. Boston: Bela Marsh, 1853. (more…)

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Modern Love: The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give

Posted in Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on July 16, 2015

19MODERNLOVE-master675I have a Modern Love in the New York Times this weekend about wedding vows, religion, and airline policy. Here’s an excerpt:

One thing I love about marriage (and I love a lot of things about marriage) is that you can have a bad day or even a bad few years, full of doubt and fights and confusion and storming out of the house. But as long as you don’t get divorced, you are no less married than couples who never have a hint of trouble (I am told such people exist). You can be bad at a religion and still be 100 percent that religion. Just because you take the Lord’s name in vain doesn’t make you suddenly a non-Christian. You can be a sinner. In fact, I think it’s good theology that no matter how hard you try, you are sure to be a sinner, just as you are sure to be lousy, at least sometimes, at being married. There is perfection only in death. Read the whole thing here.

UPDATE: The piece went viral, and the New York Times did a follow-up on the response. You can read that here.

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Cosmopolitan.com: The Virginia Tech Murder

Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on June 4, 2015

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On June 1, 2015, I spent 8 hours at the Montgomery Circuit Courthouse in Christiansburg, Virginia, for the sentencing hearing of Jessica Ewing, who killed her friend Samanata Shrestha at Virginia Tech last year. I wrote a story about the case for Cosmopolitan online. Here’s an excerpt: “I think most people are probably scratching their heads,” Ewing’s lawyer, Tyson Daniel, told Cosmopolitan.com by phone before the hearing. “Because the only thing that has been presented all this time has been the commonwealth’s evidence.” And what the commonwealth described in its summary of facts was bleak: Shrestha had invited Ewing over for dinner. At the apartment, Ewing strangled Shrestha, then put the body in a sleeping bag and put it in the victim’s car. Her plans to burn the body were thwarted when a friend wouldn’t help her. She described this in a damning journal entry as: “Some friend. He fucking won’t even help me move a goddamn body … friendship test failed.” Read the rest here.

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NYMag / The Cut: The Secret to Staying Friends in Your 30s

Posted in Ada, Freelance, Writing by Ada Calhoun on April 21, 2015

17-friendship-week-1.w529.h352I wrote an ode to quickie friendships for New York magazine’s The Cut: …Twentysomething friendships involve long, late nights, all-day walks, and hours-long phone conversations. But having friends in your 30s is functionally impossible. There is no good time to see people, no friend equivalent of the candlelit dinner and rose-strewn canopy bed. To stay friends is to make do with the social equivalent of a taco truck and bathroom quickie. As the opposite of a sensualist, I actually prefer this. There’s something both efficient and exciting about having friends woven into the texture of daily life. It feels almost illicit when we manage to steal time together, like we are cheating on our grown-up lives… Read the whole thing here.

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