Inciting Joy: Essays

Hachette Audio. Oct. 2022. 8:21 hrs. ISBN 9781649041326. $23.95. LIT
National Book Critics Circle Award–winning poet Gay follows The Book of Delights with an intimate collection of essays exploring joy, gratitude, and resistance. Narrating his own work, Gay invites listeners on a journey through 12 discursive essays (he notes that he is a “fan of digression”), dwelling on everything from football and couple’s therapy to gardening, grieving, and more. Some of Gay’s essays seem light—tenderly watching sunflower seedlings progress from vulnerable to towering, or the sweet revels of a chipmunk. Others, such as Gay’s memories of his father who died from cancer in 2004, recognize that sorrow, grief, and despair are ever-present, and in fact that coming together in these moments is essential to inciting joy. His is not a recommendation to forget or fix the tough parts of life, but an exhortation to dig in. As he notes, “Grief is not gotten over, it’s gotten into.” Gay’s narration taps into the rhythm of the book—messy, warm, deliciously dwelling on words, phrases, and thoughts.
VERDICT This exquisitely narrated collection of essays allows listeners to feel the poetry running throughout. Brimming with compassion and generosity, this is an audiobook to be savored.
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