Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose
I think I might be really into essayists. More accurately, I think I am really into Durga Chew-Bose. I loved her writing and then I looked up her photo and realized she was beautiful. But I loved her writing before I loved her face, so it is the former on which I will focus.
Selfishly, what I think I loved most about Too Much and Not in the Mood is that it reminded me that the rambling writing style and self-reflection I'm prone to can actually work in the literary sense when done well. And, oh, she does it well. I genuinely could not tell you what this book was about, but it was brilliant. Sure, she writes about race, she writes about being the child of divorced parents, she writes about being a first generation North American-er, straddling her family lineage in Kolkata with her own rootedness in the Northeast (Montreal and now Brooklyn), but she doesn't write about them so much as conjure them up through detailed, familiar descriptions that make you nostalgic for her memories, as if they were yours, hazy but bound to you the way all memories are.
Her essays both give pause and leave no room to pause at all, like you are catching your breath and holding your breath at the same time in the effortless effort to follow along. She goes from A to C to Z to F so seamlessly. The only way for the reader to get lost is to try to focus on where you're going. So you just kind of steep in her thoughts and come out the other side. Reading her writing made me pause in reading to write myself, because suddenly anything and everything seemed worth writing about.
In the few reviews I've read, Chew-Bose is already being compared to Joan Didion.
I don't really know what else to say about this book except that it is a book that I will keep, that I will reference, that I will channel into my own writing. It is a book in which I have seen myself, imagined her and somehow through which I suddenly feel connected to many others. I went every day to the bookstore for the past month waiting for this set of essays to arrive, despite having no recollection of how I heard about the collection, and it was both better and unlike what I expected.
Go read it and tell me what you think.