TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS (Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar) by Cheryl Strayed (is my Girlfriend)Posted: July 31, 2012
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT:How do I write this review without crying gushy, messy, stupid, sentimental tears all over my keyboard?
I started reading the advice column “Dear Sugar” on the website The Rumpus approximately one year ago. At the time, Sugar was anonymous, the world did not yet know that she was Cheryl Strayed, author of 2006 novel Torch and (as of then unpublished but now super-crazy bestselling) memoir Wild. In her column, Sugar taught me things about relationships and personal worth and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, things I had not been able to understand or apply to my life until I read her column. Her pieces read like half-advice column, half personal essay. She does not shy away from getting into the specifics of her harrowing past. She does not say something will be okay if it will, in fact never be okay. She gives advice that is unafraid to be hardware-store-full-of-nails tough and unafraid to be slim-volume-of-poetry sentimental. She is both big sister and cool aunt, mysterious oracle on an Asian mountain somewhere and original gangster. Go buy this book now.
This book contains some of Sugar’s best and most beloved pieces (personal favorites include “Write Like a Motherfucker,” “Dudes in the Woods,” “The Baby Bird” (this is the “WTF, WTF, WTF?” one), “The Future Has an Ancient Heart,” “The Human Scale,” “Tiny Revolutions,” “The Ghost Ship That Didn’t Carry Us,” “We Are All Savages Inside,” “The Obliterated Place,” “A Bit of Sully in Your Sweet,” “Ten Angry Boys” and “Tiny Beautiful Things.”) ( I know this is a lot of favorites.) (I couldn’t help myself, I couldn’t choose a reasonable number of favorites like three favorites or even five favorites.) (Just read them, you won’t be able to choose favorites either.)
These are all Google-able columns. You can read most of Sugar’s advice columns on the Rumpus website. Though there are new columns in the book that have not been published on the Rumpus, and they are quite good, most are shorter and don’t reach the highest heights of her classics. (Am I using the word “classic” correctly?) ( Can a blog post really be considered classic mere months after publication?) ( I don’t know, all I know is Sugar makes a lot of things possible that I, before knowing her work, would have been like, “No actually, that’s basically the opposite of possible). So if a lot of these pieces are online (and therefore, cutting out the cost of monthly internet service and regular electric bills, basically free) why buy the book?
Because Sugar writes her column for free. And if her work has touched you, or if you Google her right now and her work touches you, this is a way of saying thank you for all the time, thought and care that has gone into the advice column that revolutionized the advice column. Because if you are a fan you are going to eat up her new pieces with a spoon and a fork. Because it makes a great gift. Because you can take a pen and underline it. Because you will love the feeling of walking home from the bookstore carrying the book in one hand. Because it’s going to cheer you up to see its spine on your bookshelf (or the pile of books on your bedstand… or the pile of books on your floor)
Go buy this book now. I’m the serious-est, if you’ve ever trusted me on any book-related thing ever, trust me on this. Go buy this book now.
WHAT KIND OF GIRLFRIEND IS SHE: The kind who stays up late with you lying on the bed on top of the covers talking to you for hours. The kind who’s right about the advice she gives you 95% of the time. Maybe 97%. (I was mesmerized reading the piece “A Bit of Sully in Your Sweet,” legitimately could not rip my eyeballs away from my computer screen, but I don’t entirely agree with all the assertions and justifications made in this piece that deals with long-term relationships and infidelities.) I think 95-97% is a pretty solid batting average. It’s more than I would give most people. Myself included. Myself ESPECIALLY.
MY DATE WITH TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS:
We sit on rocking chairs on a porch in the wilderness and she tells me all sorts of things I need to know about being human.
That deserves serious kisses.