Kathryn Chetkovich writes eloquently about a very uneloquent subject: Envy

by Meredith Resnick

I read Kathryn Chetkovich’s short story, Appetites, (originally published in ZYZZYVA, in 1998, when it was featured in the Best American Short Stories series of that year.  I wished so badly to be able to craft a story like that one.  Like hers. But mostly what I felt was admiration.

Feeling admiration feels different than feeling envy.

Recently, I had heard, or remembered, or was reminded, that this woman whose story I so deeply admired, was in a relationship (like, long term) with Jonathan Franzen. Then I discovered that she’d written about the internal (and, at times, external) struggle of being in a union when both partners are writers, but only one discovers a certain kind of success and the fame that accompanies their work.

Her piece is called “Envy.” It begins like this:

“This is a story about two writers. A story, in other words, of envy.”

The essay appeared in Granta #82 in 2003. Click here for an excerpt from The Observer, also published that year.

I share the link to that essay (maybe you’ve already seen it?) because her words are powerful and honest. Because her words are inner-writing- journey relevant. And, mostly, because her essay is incredible (in a good way).

In a timeless way.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Anita

Thank you for sharing these links. I have to admit to admiring (sometimes envying, I’ll admit it) a lot of author’s out there.

Sheryl

This is fantastic, honest and clean writing. Thanks so much for posting it here. I must go on, now, to read the short story you share, too.
PS. Admiration doesn’t hurt the way envy hurts, I think. I’d rather feel admiration, then (and I do!)

Meredith

Anita and Sheryl: I think the feels are completely universal. And yes – admiration is so much nicer to feel.

Living Large

Thanks for sharing this. I’ve never really contemplated the difference between admiration and envy before. Something to definitely chew on.

sarah henry

I was shacked up with a fellow scribe for almost 20 years. I know first-hand about writers envy. It’s a tough one. Look forward to checking out these links for another perspective.

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