Can You Tolerate This? — Ashleigh Young

This is like one of those great, wide-ranging conversations where you talk about everything, from what you did last weekend to the meaning of life, and everything in between. Each essay is on its own topic and they are apparently unrelated, but as I got into the second half of the book I found that they started to go together and give a coherent picture.

I first heard of this book when I read Ashleigh Young’s essay in Tell You What 2016, in which she describes the process of creating its distinctive cover illustration. Later, the book became big news when it won a huge literary prize. I remembered that I also enjoyed her essay in the earlier Tell You What book, and I also realised that one of the blogs I read, Eyelash Roaming, is written by Young. It appears that I am a fan of Ashleigh Young’s writing! So naturally, I bought the book.

So this book is made up of disparate pieces that appear to be unrelated. But as I read them I realise that they do combine to form a cohesive whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The common thread is of course the author, who cleverly orchestrates the pieces in this way.

Actually I noticed the same phenomenon with This is Not a Novel, even though that is a very different book. This does happen to me from time to time: I read disparate books that appear to be unrelated. But as I read them I realise that they do combine to form a cohesive whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The common thread here is… the reader. That’s me! I suppose readers do “orchestrate” books by selecting them to read. Interesting that there can be common elements in the books that i read, even though they seem to be so different. It probably says something about me. I don’t know what that is — I will leave it up to my future biographers. Their job will be pretty easy: all they will have to do is read the Bennettarium.

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