Courtesy of Samuel Braslow

Yale graduate Brittany Menjivar ’21 published her debut poetry and short story collection “Parasocialite” on March 15. The work was featured in Nylon Magazine’s list of “Must-Read Book Releases” for March 2024.

In the work, Menjivar explores parasocial relationships. Among the titles in the anthology are “A semi truck hit me,” “iPhones Suck” and “I Look Up My Ex.” Menjivar began writing the earliest works in “Parasocialite” in 2017, as a first year at Yale.

Menjivar later began a document where she would loosely compile her writing on parasocial relationships, letting the work spontaneously develop in its initial stages. 

Her poem “A semi truck ran into me” was inspired by a violent car crash that she survived

“I was in a near-fatal car accident in fall 2021 coming back from fall break. My dad and I were below an underpass in New York, in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic,” Menjivar said. “The truck coming into the underpass behind us came at full speed and crashed into us. It was a crazy event with four or five cars involved. Then a semi truck ended up going through the passenger window where I was sitting, stopping just inches away from my face.”

Menjivar struggled with intrusive thoughts after the accident. Even though she and her father were safe, she could not help thinking about how her face could have been scarred or disfigured if the truck had come just a little closer. The thought haunted Menjivar for a while after the accident.

In fall 2023, Menjivar met her best friend Erin for the first time, after having messaged each other on Instagram. They talked about Menjivar’s car crash over dinner. On the drive back from the meet-up, Erin was T-boned at an intersection.

The friends made an inside joke of their shared trauma bonding. They started an alternative literature reading series together called “Car Crash Collective.”

Photo of Menjivar and her best friend Erin for Car Crash Collective. Courtesy of Miranda Watters.

In November 2023, Menjivar saw the publisher Dream Boy Book Club post an open call for manuscripts. Having previously interacted with the editor in chief, Jonathan Fostar, who was also active in the Los Angeles literary scene, Menjivar knew their literary styles overlapped. She edited “Parasocialite” in the 30 days before the deadline.

A lot of what’s in the book is brand new or completed recently, and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference,” Fostar said. “I think that speaks to a certain unity of voice, of her voice. It doesn’t matter if she just finished a piece this morning, or if it was already published and forgotten about two years ago; they all feel very Britt and very recent. The book is painfully contemporary, in the best possible way.”

Fostar added that he was minimally involved in the editing process. He said that there are even a couple of pages he has not read yet.

Upon encountering the poem “Gnosis” in “Parasocialite,” Murtaza Kitabwalla ’27 said, “It’s like how humans strive to be perfect, but they can’t attain that.” Kitabwalla found some other poems “anti-establishment,” drawing attention to some of the more eccentric titles of the anthology. He admitted that some analogies and imagery were confusing upon a first glance, but that they gave way for contemplation.

Kitabwalla added that the work focused on the themes of perspective and humanness.

Menjivar was an English and film double major at Yale.