If I'm going to have a celebrity crush on anyone, it's going to be Tig Notaro.
I have followed Tig Notaro's story, comedy, and life updates for quite some time now.
So while I had a rough idea of her life story, the insights and information that she presented to her readers were new to me.
Take, for example, how she dropped out of high school and repeated the eighth grade 3 times. Or how she only saw her biological dad for a total of about 10 times.
There were moments when I wished that Notaro could've been more descriptive about her tribulations. And yet, there is no doubt that Notaro controls the pace and comedic timing of her book excellently. After all, she is a comedian.
There are lines in this book I will never forget. She said she was "dangling in purgatory" when she had breast cancer. "Dangling in purgatory" has stuck in my mind ever since I read those two words.
Another reason this memoir was so well done is that the memoir was not self-deprecating, and did not belittle others.
It was as if she anticipated all of her loved ones or people who have positively touched her reading her book, and so, in turn, she wrote a book that spoke of them in the most respectful manner.
Let's just say if Notaro has another book published, I'm sure as hell going to read it.
The last 40 pages, about her trying to get pregnant and falling in love with her wife, Stephanie, were my favorite.
Just as Ross Gay soaks up the delights of life, I try my best to soak up each each essay, sentence, word, and use of punctuation that Gay has blessed us with.
His writing was free therapy.
Each entry is filled with love, wittiness, and depth.
When he talks about the heaviness of the world, he continues to cradle and cultivate joy.
In one entry, he writes about a racist white woman who kicked him out of a cafe for fear that he would “scare away other customers.” This act of deep racism was followed by a joyous observation about a grasshopper on his mug.
In NO WAY am I arguing that discussions on racism should be followed by bursts of joy that attempts to sweep away systematic and societal problems. Because this is certainly not what Gay is attempting to do. Instead, Gay is offering his expression of the coexistence of joy and struggle.
His struggle, and joy for that matter, is one that I may not fully understand, given our differences in life experiences and privilege. Yet, I do recognize that reading this expression of joy and struggle allows Gay to counteract the media. Too often, the media only displays the 'racism struggle.' They don't show examples of Black joy, Black pride, or Black love. And Gay shows this. He will write about the racism, and he will write about embracing Blackness.
I think that both are important to read about, especially from those who are Black.
He is a critic and an embodiment of joy.
A few of my favorite quotes:
“rain percussing on the sidewalk in front of me”
“hovering in the luminal space between sensitivity and paranoia” (page 125)
-mention of Crystal Williams on page 126
“She is accepting, it seems, what she is: one of the varieties of light.” (page 250)
“an acquaintance, an academic, shockingly, who told his daughter, when she was a tadpole, the more stuff you love the happier you will be” (page 255)
“The fact that one’s comfort is often dependent, the way we set it up anyway, on one’s agony.” (259)
“I was thinking how many bodies of mine are in this body, this nearly forty-three-year-old body stationed on this plane for the briefest.” (267)
As I was nearing the end of this book, a goodreads friend commented on my updated progress check saying something along the lines of, "the ending is a real tear jerker." While I believed him, I did not expect myself to cry, for I haven't had the energy to produce tears. I've been preparing (and now recovering) from a hysteroscopy.
But as I reached the remaining pages, I was struck by the power and beauty of Paul Kalanithi's words, and later by Lucy Kalanithi's epilogue. The tears rolled down my cheeks with ease, and they wouldn't stop until I closed the book for good.
There is no doubt that this book reminded me to live with bravery and integrity as opposed to unrealistic optimism.
I think what I will remember most are the lessons on writing. Paul Kalanithi has taught me that to be a writer, one will have to write in the face of deep tiredness and sorrow. Kalanithi was a testament to this. He was always a writer, and a deep thinker.
When he was at his frailest, he continued to write. Now, his written words are perhaps ever more present than the words he once spoke.
We think that speech is the most present, and the closest we can get to meaning. But when the speech is done, when the breathing has stopped, all that is left is writing. All that is left are visuals; poems, anecdotes, essays, photos, etc.
When Paul's breath became air, his writing became music. His words are composed of the breath and melodies that once lived in him. And what lingers is a tune that will live on forever, traversing the boundaries of breath and air, to become a sincere note that will hold till infinity.
Paul's love, compassion, and determination live on.
I never read a book that was so funny that I had to take multiple pictures of the the pages that made me laugh.
Batuman made me laugh a lot, so all these pictures are now clogging my iphone storage, but I envision myself revisiting these pictures often. So I won’t be deleting them.
This book is thought provoking just as much as it is funny.
THIS BOOK DOES SOMETHING TO YOU.
Well, it did something to me.
Did it expand my mind? Yes, I think so.
Did it turn me into an insomniac for a few days? Also yes.
And no, it's not because Selin is also an insomniac.
Don’t take this as an insult Batuman, (please, take it as a compliment), but your book felt like an intellectual American girl doll story. I don’t exactly know why. I felt a wave of nostalgia reading, and Selin was more than the main character. She was the mind behind the story.
Her life, if I was to explain it to someone, would seem "average." Maybe it would be considered less exciting. But Selin's thoughts are pulsed with so much creativity and weirdness that the book is exciting. The people who Selin surrounds herself with are just like her thoughts---creative and weird.
You'll love Svetlana.
Selin is awkward and often uncomfortable. I LOVE this. I need to read more books where the women are cool in their own way. They don't know how to do everything, they may be considered weird, they're quiet, they don't always say everything that they feel, and they are incredibly lovable.
Selin is incredibly lovable.
“At a table near the door, two students were slumped over their books, either asleep or murdered. In a corner, a girl was staring at a stack of flash cards with incredible ferocity, as if she was going to eat them.” (p. 213)
“As deaf as coral.” (p. 241)
"as useless as a bald man's comb."
"According to the artichoke theory, man had some inner essence, or "heart"; according to the onion theory, once you had unwrapped all the layers of society off man, there was nothing there. Seen from this perspective, the idea of an onion maquerading as an artichoke seemed sinister, even sociopathic." (p. 183)
"And because I was walking with him now, for just this moment, I had a special dispensation, I could look at whatever he was looking at, too. So I too, looked at the man---at the lines etched into his face, at his crafty and reproachful expression, at his cloudy eye and his piercing eye, overhung by a wilderness of eyebrows." (p. 177)
"We walked along the shadowy aisles, among rows of sleeping blue bodies with gaping mouths. We stopped in an alcove in front of an emergency door. Ivan sat on the flat part of the door, where DO NOT SIT HERE was printed in red. I leaned on the wall, where it read DO NOT LEAN. On the movie screen, a tank blew up and a woman in fatigues dove into a ditch." (p. 236)