Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers explores isolation, class, and gender in her nonfiction essay, “Shame.” Set mostly in Guilford County, North Carolina, Rogers recollects her complicated relationship with her grandparents who live secluded on a gothic farm. Rogers sympathizes with her grandmother’s inability to escape a marriage to a man who acts as a family patriarch and predator. When Rogers graduates high school and attends Oberlin University, she fulfills a dream of higher education her grandma could never afford. Despite the liberal, nerdy, queer community Roger finds on campus, she feels out of place and looked down upon because of her ties to small town Guilford County. Rogers explores how humans value themselves above others based on class and education, both unearned privileges. She uses humor and calculated characterization of her grandmother to show readers how isolating it is to exist on the edges. The essay ends with a haunting image of Roger’s grandma, trapped behind the glass window above her sink, washing the dishes, staring at the view of an eroding barn and fields of clay. The image humanizes isolation as women observe the world around them but are unable to fully participate.
“Shame” by Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers. The Cincinnati Review, 19.1, Spring 2022.
Reviewer bio: Lauren McKinnon is a creative writing master’s student at Utah State University. She teaches English and is the Assistant Graduate Director of Composition. Lauren is currently writing her first book of poetry about the Southern Utah desert, motherhood, and woman’s bodies.