Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young
Essays

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Young has said that her essays emerge from feelings of awkwardness about herself and her place in the world, but with this collection and those to follow, the world of this promising New Zealander is about to become wider.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A dazzling - and already prizewinning - collection of essays on youth and aging, ambition and disappointment, Katherine Mansfield tourism and New Zealand punk rock, and the limitations of the body.

Youth and frailty, ambition and anxiety, the limitations of the body and the challenges of personal transformation: these are the undercurrents that animate acclaimed poet Ashleigh Young's first collection of essays. In Can You Tolerate This?--the title comes from the question chiropractors ask to test a patient's pain threshold--Young ushers us into her early years in the faraway yet familiar landscape of New Zealand: fantasizing about Paul McCartney, cheering on her older brother's fledging music career, and yearning for a larger and more creative life. As Young's perspective expands, a series of historical portraits--a boy who grew new bone wherever he was injured, an early French postman who built a stone fortress by hand, a generation of Japanese shut-ins--strike unexpected personal harmonies, as an unselfconscious childhood gives way to painful shyness in adolescence. As we watch Young fall in and out of love, undertake an intense yoga practice that masks an eating disorder, and gradually find herself through her writing, a highly particular psyche comes into view: curious, tender, and exacting in her observations of herself and the world around her.

Can You Tolerate This? presents a vivid self-portrait of an introspective yet widely curious young woman, the colorful, isolated community in which she comes of age, and the uneasy tensions--between safety and risk, love and solitude, the catharsis of grief and the ecstasy of creation--that define our lives.
 

About Ashleigh Young

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Published July 3, 2018 by Riverhead Books. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Can You Tolerate This?
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Kirkus

Good
on Apr 11 2018

Young has said that her essays emerge from feelings of awkwardness about herself and her place in the world, but with this collection and those to follow, the world of this promising New Zealander is about to become wider.

Read Full Review of Can You Tolerate This?: Essays | See more reviews from Kirkus

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Hamilton Cain on Jul 13 2018

In Young’s hands the lyric essay transforms into something rich and strange, a sea change of form. “Can You Tolerate This?” is an assured debut from a prodigiously talented, empathic writer whose prose shines as brightly as her poetry.

Read Full Review of Can You Tolerate This?: Essays | See more reviews from Star Tribune

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