• COMEDY,  REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

    This book’s title gives a nod to female confidence, and is the subject of its penultimate chapter. Kaling’s insights on the complications of being a confident woman come from lived experience; she routinely has to answer men when they ask her where she gets her confidence, as if she doesn’t look like someone who should possess confidence and therefore has to explain herself. However, Kaling relays the story of being asked where she gets her confidence by a young Indian girl, who, with candor, foregrounded her own struggle with insecurity. This last chapter is an essay replying to that question, an answer she wishes she could have given at the…

  • COMEDY,  REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

    I know its a faux pas in the practice of book reviewing to comment on the author rather than the book itself, but books reviews aren’t exactly what I do anyway. Now that I have that out of the way: I love Mindy Kaling. She writes playfully, imaginatively; there is something so exhilarating about the story of someone who is now successful relay the way they bumbled, stammered, groped blindly their way to a career they love. As I get older, the concept of success becomes more and more desirable, though it remains elusive and hard to reach; and while Kaling never promotes her life as a model of success,…

  • REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

    Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain is hilarious, well written and extremely apropos. Not only does she have the ability to encapsulate complex and complicated life experiences into a few concise paragraphs, Robinson has an apt simile or metaphor to go with every one. Here’s one of my favourites: “… I can explain why sometimes a black lady may straighten her hair. If she is anything like me, her natural hair has special shape-shifting qualities of epic T-1000 proportions, which means it has a mind of its own. For instance, when I sport an Afro, I may want to relax by sitting on…

  • REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit

    I finished Men Explain Things To Me just a moment ago and now feel as though I am coming up for air. Rebecca Solnit begins her book by describing a conversation in which a man whom she doesn’t know attempts to explain her own book to her, until he realizes that she did in fact, write it. As a woman, I know that I do not have to have written a book to have a man, usually, tell me that I probably do not know what I’m talking about. Indeed, this conversation is painfully familiar; it is commonplace in classrooms, workplaces, families. I think of my experience in a class…

  • REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    Wanderlust – A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

    In some of the most emotionally turbulent times of my life I have taken to walking. The memories surrounding these walks are blurry, mysterious and back lit. I will often not remember what I was going through at the time, but the poignancy of the landscape, the crisp air, the mist hanging over a field, remains. In Wanderlust, Rebecca Solnit’s History of Walking she quotes an unnamed German man: “‘In the experience of walking, each step is a thought. You can’t escape yourself’” (51). I remember on one of my walks, unconsciously breaking into a run and realizing what was happening after some time had passed. Trying to escape from…

  • REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    “The Pain Scale” by Eula Biss

    Eula Biss’ “The Pain Scale” is a fascinating meditation on how incalculable pain is. Is it possible to exist with no pain? Doesn’t everyone feel pain differently? Isn’t it then arbitrary to describe it with numbers? I immediately thought of my father as I was reading “The Pain Scale”. Prior to having a pretty involved jaw surgery, I had expressed some fear to him regarding the entire process. As an athlete and a cancer survivor, he has had his own experiences with going under. He walked me through what I could expect. When you wake up, he said, they will ask you to measure your pain on a scale from…

  • REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    “Kissing” by Anthony Farrington

    Anthony Farrington’s “Kissing” is a beautiful patchwork of non-linear memories. He offers snapshots of his relationships and the magic they represent, snapshots of fractured and broken connections. I love the idea that experiences, in some ways, are able to stand on their own. Maybe in hindsight we see that we were naive; maybe in hindsight we know that it would have been better for all involved to refrain from intimacy – physical and emotional. Maybe we hate ourselves for having loved someone. But our memories are sneaky, clumsy toddlers. Our memories find the ice cream and eat the whole pint. Our memories want these moments to remain precious, delicate, delicious.…

  • REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    Hunger – A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

    In Hunger – A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay writes: “[w]hen you’re overweight, your body becomes a matter of public record in many respects… [p]eople project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth may be” (120). Gay describes with such clarity the way in which the world we live in is so ill-equipped to make space for marginalized bodies – and more specifically – fat bodies*. Nevertheless, Hunger is an account of Gay’s life told on her own terms, an account that must be heard, deserves to be heard, though the world cannot hold it. Despite having…

  • REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    Plan B by Anne Lamott

    Plan B – Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott is a collection of mini essays that pours all of life through a sieve, and concentrates on the flecks of gold that are left behind. That is Lamott’s gift to her readers – she holds up treasures of her experiences to the light and lets it shine through. I found myself thinking, this woman knows all the most wise, profound people. By the end of the book, I recognized that Lamott simply happens to see the treasure in her friends. Plan B is comprised of the thoughts and reflections of a religious woman. She talks about Jesus a lot – the way in which…

  • REFLECTIVE REVIEWS

    PROMPT – WEEK 3

    I remember the first time I noticed the man’s face in the moon. It was the first time I really looked at it. He looked lonely up there, all alone. Did the sun keep him company? I thought about how the moon is a kind of clock. The moon is out: I go to bed. The moon is on the other side of the earth: I am awake. The moon is visible in the blue sky: what a phenomenon. It marks the seasons. It says: Ready or not, winter is here. It says: Do you hear the birds singing? It’s spring.  I’ve heard it said that there is no scientific basis for…

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