The Book of Explanations

Deep Vellum. May 2022. 192p. tr. from Spanish by Robin Myers. ISBN 9781646051250. pap. $16.95. LIT
In a series of 13 creative, genre-bending essays, Mexican poet López Mills (author of the poetry collection Against the Current) explores themes of identity, purpose, and existence. The essays are inspired by deeply personal memories and conversations with friends. Starting with the struggle of not connecting with her given name in “Improper Names,” the author focuses on the meaning of identity and self-discovery through both the subject matter and structure of the essay. “Portrait of a Reader as a Young Woman” covers the deeply confusing, terrifying, and prolonged transition from adolescence to adulthood. In “Cats and I,” she expresses the exquisite companionship of a cat juxtaposed with her father’s cruel treatment of her childhood cats and how his behavior shaped her future relationships with pets. Themes of companionship carry over to “Jealousy in a Very Modern Mind,” where her friend tries to justify and explain the hold jealousy has on her marriage. The essays are also philosophic ruminations on the importance of pessimism or the slim divide between imagination and memory. Each essay shows how all moments, big and small, shape our lives and outlooks.
VERDICT Recommended for fans of creative fiction and memoirs.
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