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A Hippo Honor

May 1, 2013

I just read an email from Donna Talarico, Founder, Publisher, and Managing Editor of Hippocampus Magazine, announcing that I am included in the magazine’s “best of” issue, out today, in celebration of its two-year anniversary.


I found out about Hippocampus in 2011, through a Google alert I have set up for the word. Usually the alert collects articles on treatment for neurological disorders, discoveries about how memories are formed, and evidence of how exercise boosts hippocampus function. Given the hippocampus’s role in memory, it’s not a surprise that “hippocampus” and “memoir” would coincide, but when that alert over two years ago showed me a new market for nonfiction writing had just been established, one that sought to celebrate EXACTLY what I was writing and studying, just as I was in the middle of the Big Push to get my memory manuscript full formed, it was like the stars aligned and the sky cleared to a perfect blue and hot coffee appeared bedside and every other analogy for extra-special-goodness happened all at once.

Here’s what Hippo offers: “a literary magazine filled with fresh memoir excerpts and memorable essays” as well as “a venue to educate and inform those interested in reading and writing creative nonfiction.” Of its name: “The hippocampus is what makes enjoying great memoir possible because, without it, memories would not exist.” If you know anything about me at all, I hope it’s this: those words are some of my favorite words all strung together.

So here’s what I wrote to the editors:

I have a Google alert set for the word “hippocampus.” It’s one of my favorite words, not only for how it sounds, but for what it means to me. I’m writing a book about memory. It’s my response to the childhood memoirs I love to read. Since I have only two childhood memories, I can’t write a childhood memoir. But for the last three and a half years, I’ve been studying memory, undergoing memory recovery therapy, and defining what memory means to someone like me. Though not really a memoir, my manuscript is a hybrid of psychology, neuroscience, and narrative that chronicles my attempts to excavate lost memory. That Google alert—that’s how I found your new magazine. And that’s why I stopped doing everything else today and searched my manuscript for an excerpt that I that I hope you might consider for publication. … Though this letter accompanies my submission, I want to use it to more generally say I’m thrilled to see your publication up and running. For a few years I’ve been dreaming of centers, journals, and outlets devoted to the celebration and study of creative nonfiction. It’s immensely exciting to see the birth of Hippocampus Magazine, and I wish you the absolute best!

They accepted my piece, an excerpt called “The Rabbit Hole.” I responded with exclamation points sized up and set in bold. It was published in the inaugural issue, May 2011. And now I’m learning that it’s being highlighted two years on. Gleeeeee.

I happen to be in the middle of a Big Push to revise my memory manuscript, two years after completing it. And I happen to be at the tail end of an odd and hopefully short-lived existential crisis during which I found myself questioning the purpose of a life of art. And I ALSO happen to be putting the finishing touches on an essay in which the other hippo, the hippopotamus, plays a walk-on part, and that kind of coincidence can’t be understated. So here I am, somewhat cold coffee by the bed, reading this email from Donna at Hippocampus, visiting the site, seeing my essay alongside some of my favorite reads from the last two years, and thinking: my stars, my skies, my coffee, I am living a blessed life of art.

Thank you, Donna and the Hippo team, for all that it takes to continue to put Hippocampus Magazine out each month.

To further honor this moment, I’ll share one article from the latest Google alert on the hippocampus: did you know that third-graders who have a “larger and more active hippocampus” respond very well to math tutoring? BE STILL MY HEART, THE STARS REALLY ARE ALIGNED TODAY. Check it out.

From → Publications

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