Spilt Milk

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Courtney Zoffness Puts Messiness on Display

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At the Paris Review, Courtney Zoffness discusses her book, Spilt Milk, with Lynn Steger Strong, and how writing it was an exercise in embracing uncertainty. “Endings are so deceptive,” Zoffness says. “That final period gives the illusion of resolution or conclusion when my thoughts and feelings on nearly every subject and experience in Spilt Milk remain unresolved. I think that one of the aims of an essay is to ask questions, not necessarily answer them, and I try to embed this spirit of inquiry in each piece, to be transparent about my own internal conflicts or uncertainty along the way—whether over parental choices or astrology or my feelings about other people. I want to show messiness. This approach hopefully trains readers not to expect a resolution, but it can also make it harder for me to discern the right endnote. Several of these endings gelled through trial and error.”

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