Learning to Feel Sorry

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For Electric Literature, Adam Vitcavage interviews Swan Huntley about how Huntley’s experience working as a nanny helped her to conceive her debut novel We Could Be Beautiful:

What interested me so much about that job was how we, the help—the nannies and the housekeepers—were so quick to dismiss our boss’ pain. “You’re rich, you’re not allowed to suffer” was kind of the mentality. If she was having a bad day it was almost as if we wanted to say, “go get a facial or see a therapist.” We were very unforgiving because we lived in a hole in deep Brooklyn. We didn’t feel sorry.

That was really interesting to me. I think all our suffering matters, whoever we are. I started thinking how lonely that must be. That’s a theme that is addressed in the first couple of pages.


Jake Slovis earned his MFA in Writing from Rutgers University, where he now teaches English Composition. He is a second-generation Argentine American and has spent significant time living and writing in Buenos Aires. He currently resides in Brooklyn. More from this author →