Kim Addonizio is used to being exposed. As a writer of provocative poems and stories, she has encountered success along with snark: one critic dismissed her as “Charles Bukowski in a sundress.” (“Why not Walt Whitman in a sparkly tutu?” she muses.) Now, in this utterly original memoir in essays, she opens up to chronicle the joys and indignities in the life of a writer wandering through middle age.Writing
Addonizio vividly captures moments of inspiration at the writing desk (or bed) and adventures on the road—from a champagne-and-vodka-fueled one-night stand at a writing conference to sparsely attended readings at remote Midwestern colleges. Her crackling, unfiltered wit brings colorful life to pieces like “What Writers Do All Day,” “How to Fall for a Younger Man,” and “Necrophilia” (that is, sexual attraction to men who are dead inside). And she turns a tender yet still comic eye to her family: her father, who sparked her love of poetry; her mother, a former tennis champion who struggled through Parkinson’s at the end of her life; and her daughter, who at a young age chanced upon some erotica she had written for Penthouse.
This book is such a joy to read. Addonizio is obviously a talented poet - her word choice and lyricism shine through even in essay format. In addition to having a stunning sense of which word will sound the best where, she's funny and smart and just the right amount of self-deprecating. She can laugh at herself without being self-pitying. I'm not a huge reader of poetry (esssays are more my style) but I will be picking up one of her poetry collections because I was so impressed with how poetic (and yet accessible) her essays were. If her poetry is anything like her essays, I think I'll be able to appreciate it in a way that I don't with much modern poetry.
There are two themes among the essays in this collection - Addonizio's personal life and experiences and her experiences and thoughts on the art of writing. I definitely preferred the essays about her craft to the essays about her personal life. While her thoughts on writing are universal, I found her personal life to be just completely beyond the realm of my experience and not something I could identify with,
I highly recommend this to fans of poetry, fans of the author herself, or those who are invested in writing in some fashion, especially if you're trying to get published. I've got a list of several author-friends I plan on sending my copy to.
Thanks to the publisher (Viking/Penuin Random House) for providing me with a copy to review!