Better Know a Teen Girl: Read RED

December 20th, 2007 by Larry Smith

RED_girls.jpgIn the last couple of weeks, I’ve been lucky to catch two readings of RED: The Next Generation of American Writers–Teenage Girls–On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, which is a remarkable collection of essays. At the first reading, my friend David—and author of two books himself—turned to me and said: “This is the best reading I’ve ever been to.” When I caught a second reading this past Tuesday at the Lower East Side Girls Club in Manhattan, RED editor Amy Goldwasser revealed that seed of the book was planted at that very spot, in a sense for what she called “selfish” reasons. Goldwasser realized that she much preferred lending a hand to the LESGC girls on their college essays by night to the paid work she was doing by day in NYC’s magazine jungle. “As opposed to professional adult writers,” she told me later, describing the process of editing 58 girls for the final incarnation of the book, “they really had no interest in pleasing me–which made for the very best, purest kind of editing. I never rewrote a word, I just got to ask a lot of questions then eagerly await (and cut-and-paste) their answers. These girls don’t follow conventions. Their writing is a lot more pure, honest, real.” I read personal essays each and every day, yet what I heard and what I’ve read have been nothing short of a revelation. That’s why at the second RED reading, I made sure I had plenty of SMITH cards to give to these young writers—writers who I suspect we’ll be hearing from a lot more in the coming years. And that’s why I hope you’ll read these three essays which we’re honored to publish here (and you can click through to three more on Salon), and then buy a copy of RED.

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