Susan Coll

Essay
LitHub
Meet-Cute: Susan Coll on Falling In Love with (and at) a Bookstore

I had always dreamed of a job that engaged in some aspect of the business of books. Although I was writing novels and taking on freelance work—for a time I became the queen of the 800-word feature story for a couple of international newspapers, accepting any assignment that came along, from writing about children’s birthday parties to the black market economy in India—I had not had a steady paycheck since my twenties. That was because, middle-aged cliché, I married young and put my career on hold to follow my journalist husband from post to post.

So, at the age of 52, learning that some friends of friends had purchased a bookstore in Washington, DC, I put together a memo full of ideas about ways to expand the store’s offerings through classes and community events. I didn’t know what I was talking about, but I got my own heart pumping and much to my surprise, I was hired.

I threw myself into the job and worked long hours to avoid thinking about the bleeding out of my marriage, a relationship that was going on 32 years. Blood metaphors are a bit dramatic, but even now, when I look around the bookstore, I sometimes imagine a crime scene; I still see the locations where I absorbed each data point of shock.

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Essay
Washingtonian Magazine
We asked Washington writers to share stories, essays, poems, drafts, musings, and other things they’ve been working on during quarantine. Today, a riff by Susan Coll, who is the author of five novels, most recently The Stager.
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Shortly after I turned in my new novel, The Stager, my editor sent me a startling black and white photograph of a woman in a chair. The woman is in a state of graceful repose, with long legs extending into strappy black shoes. She is sultry, sexy, and extremely unsettling. She appears to be beautiful even though you cannot see her face because she is wearing a mask. The art director was suggesting updating this image to use as the cover of the book.
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“Tell me,” Kurt Vonnegut asks Jane Marie Cox, his future wife, “would you enjoy living with me, sleeping with me, leading a carnival life?”
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