Brevity

The Necessity of Human Myth

Guest Post by Adrian Thomson.

Jesse Lee Kercheval’s “The Boy Who Drew Cats” speaks both to our current time and to the necessity of human myth. Confined to a house in Uruguay as her children face quarantine in Japan, Kercheval connects to the hero of a Japanese fable, the titular drawer of cats, in an attempt to find solace within herself through her own artistic ventures.

This connection to cultural myth—and Kercheval does cement her own tale very concretely to the modern as well as the mythical—inspires the author in its assertions of safety, balance, and a sense of stability. The myth helps her recapture her own love of art and facilitates a return to  the page where flowers transform into felines. Kercheval does not uphold the myth as a perfect guideline, either—she comments upon it, accepting the good she sees there while acknowledging elements she appears to dislike.

But her inclusion of the fable also speaks to the wider purpose of human myth—as a necessity of the imagination to allow us to “visit” faraway places and to inspire. Kercheval places both within the story to generate trust that the world will get better, as well as trust in her own abilities.


The Boy Who Drew Cats” by Jesse Lee Kercheval. Brevity, January 2021.

Reviewer bio: Adrian Thomson is a graduate student at Utah State University, currently working toward his MS by way of a thesis in poetry.

Sunday Short Reads

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Interested in submitting your own nonfiction? They are open to submissions of nonfiction by older writers (age 60+) through February 22.

Brevity – No. 66

Issue 66 of Brevity is here! Find nonfiction by Jesse Lee Kercheval, Elena Passarello, Sonja Livingston, Ira Sukrungruang, Kate Hopper, Melissa Stephenson, Anne Panning, Hiram Perez, Noah Davis, Laurie Klein, Lizz Huerta, Francis Walsh, Tyler Orion, Dorian Fox, and Michael McAllister.

Brevity Blog: Blurb Your Enthusiasm

Brevity Blog: "Blurb Your Enthusiasm" by Lisa KuselAre you a follower of literary blogs? Do you love nonfiction? Did you know online literary magazine Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction has a (nearly) daily blog? It should definitely be on your blogroll! You can find reviews, articles, and so much more.

I highly recommend checking out Lisa Kusel’s “Blurb Your Enthusiasm” posted on December 18. The piece is an interesting take on the value of blurbs on the back of your book and the luck of a lesser known writer getting a big name to step in and contribute a blurb. It was particularly interesting to me because I actually do not heed blurbs on the back of books. When trying to select a new book to read, I always felt annoyed when I saw blurbs from others when I what I wanted was a brief book summary to actually let me know what the book was about.

Have you ever selected a book based on the back cover blurbs alone?

While you are checking that out, don’t forget to scroll through more posts. They are definitely an interesting read.

Brevity – Sept 2020

The essays in this guest-edited special issue of Brevity consider all aspects of illness and disability: what it is, what it means, how our understanding of disability is changing. Our anchor author is novelist and essayist Esmé Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias. Other authors featured include Barbara Lanciers, Meg Le Duc, William Fargason, Ona Gritz, Kelly Weber, Maya Osman-Krinsky, and more. The “Experiences of Disability” issue is guest edited by Keah Brown, Sonya Huber, and Sarah Fawn Montgomery. Artwork by Jill Khoury.