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There will be blood: Chloe Caldwell reflects on menstruation, PMDD, and relationships in ‘The Red Zone’

Chloe Caldwell; The Red Zone.
Chloe Caldwell

This week on The Write Question, Lauren speaks with Chloe Caldwell about The Red Zone: A Love Story (Soft Skull Press), a book of non-fiction that reads like a memoir, like your favorite teen magazine, like the diaries you stole away from prying eyes. It’s a book about PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a medical diagnosis still considered controversial; it’s a book about relationships, and queerness, and family. It’s a coming-of-age story; it’s a love story—it’s a book about periods. And this is a conversation about periods.

About Chloe:

Chloe Caldwell is the author of three books: the essay collection I’ll Tell You in Person (Coffee House/Emily Books), the critically acclaimed novella, WOMEN (SF/LD and Harper Collins UK) and , and her memoir, The Red Zone: A Love Story (Soft Skull). Chloe’s essays have appeared in The New York Times, Bon Appétit, New York Magazine’s The Cut, The Strategist, Buzzfeed, Longreads, Vice, Nylon,, Medium, The Rumpus, Catapult, Hobart, The Sun, Men’s Health, The Nervous Breakdown, and half a dozen anthologies including Goodbye To All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NYC and Without A Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class. Her essay “Hungry Ghost” was listed as Notable in 2017 Best American Non Required Reading. She teaches creative nonfiction writing in New York City and online, offers mentorships, and hosts seasonal writing workshops and retreats upstate New York. She lives in Hudson, N.Y. with her family.

Chloe Caldwell recommends:

Motherhood by Sheila Heti (Picador USA)

Human Blues by Elisa Albert (Simon & Schuster)

Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life by Darcey Steinke (Sarah Crichton Books)

Speak by Laurie Anderson (Square Fish)

Lauren Korn recommends:

Where Should We Begin?, a podcast hosted by Esther Perel (Gimlet Media)

Gush: Menstrual Manifestos For Our Time (Frontenac House Press)

Chelsea Girls (Ecco Press) and Cool For You (Soft Skull Press) by Eileen Myles

How to Grow Up (Plume Books) and Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions, and Criticisms (Amethyst Editions) by Michelle Tea

The Write Question team is Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Peter Hoag, co-producer and editor; and Tom Berich, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now the host of Montana Public Radio’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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