Started reading this at 8 last night and came up for air, disoriented, 5 hours later. It’s a series of personal essays that make you wonder why you ever denounced the person essay. Maybe Chloe’s the only one who should really be writing them. She talks about friendships & small mistakes & big mistakes & the general chaos of being in your 20s.
It’s been a while since I read something and had to sit there for a few minutes and just feel it, but her essay The Music & The Boys was Striking. Anyways, I liked this book, can you tell?
Would you like your heart to be stepped upon? Would you like to laugh while it happens? Would you like to gain access to another world that will stay with you forever, but you’ll never be able to articulate to another human being? Welcome.
“But whatever, we descendants of the Girl Line may not have wealth and proper windows in our drafty homes but at least we have rage and we will build empires with that, gentlemen.”
“Dan wanted me to stay. I wanted Elf to stay. Everyone in the whole world was fighting with somebody to stay. When Richard Bach wrote “If you love someone, set them free” he can’t have been directing his advice at human beings.”
Short stories about women they don’t hate themselves. It’s sort of reminiscent of Barbara the Slut, if you’ve read that, but I think she does an even better job creating redeemable characters and situations almost instantly. Very fun to read.
“The way the women are together is its own foreign country; they move around each other like extensions of a single body, their voices and laughter entangled.”
I love Shauna, and, simultaneously, I acknowledge that everything she writes is basically the same thing. It’s always exactly what you need to hear, though, so we can’t fault her.
This is my favorite of her books, every chapter tells the story of a meal with the recipe at the end. She managed to teach me how to make salad dressing (and that it was even possible to make salad dressing) and how be less neurotic in a single swoop. Any time I host in any capacity I perform a Shauna Niequist Mental Wellness Check: am I letting the ‘performance’ cloud the event? Am I making food I can’t pronounce the name of? Have I yelled at Caleb simply for being a living being in my spotless home? She always lets me know when I’ve gone too far.
“I’m not talking about cooking as performance, or entertaining as a complicated choreography of competition and showing off. I’m talking about feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.”
Rating: 8/10 (Actual sticky notes for actual meals I flip back to consistently)
Possibly the best poems ever written, but certainly the best I’ve ever read. They are delightfully and specifically strange, equally charming and disorienting. Exactly as it should be.