not in the mood review.

A collection of works that left me breathless at times. Words spun into dictum that made me think, “Did she crawl into my brain?”

First and foremost: Too Much and Not in the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose is an assortment of essays exploring creative writing. The title is lended from Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary, where she describes her frustration with placating her readers. The phrase, “too much and not in the mood” kept Woolf pondering if she had anything that was truly worth saying. Chew-Bose found many things to say in this compilation.

My favorite section, specifically seven pages of text, deals with the notion of nook people. The term she coined truly captures the essence of my identity. A type of person that is quite introverted, but observant. “Nook people express appreciation in the moment by maintaining how much we will miss what is precisely happening.” I cannot express how often I’ve felt that sentiment. In both large and small moments of my life I try to hold on deeply so that I won’t forget. I want to preserve every emotion I feel in the flash of time so that I may I cherish them.

Chew-Bose also describes nook people as, “those of us who need solitude, but also the sound of someone puttering in the next room.” I am the type of person that needs space and time to decompress. At the same time I love the comfort of having people near enough so that I don’t feel loneliness. It’s a delicate balance that frustrates me at times, but I’m learning to be at peace with it.

The whole notion of nook people helped me better identify myself. Or rather, accept who I am. I never understood why I felt exhaustion after social outings, but Chew-Bose’s perspective shed some light on my lifestyle. It has comforted me to embrace that it’s absolutely okay and necessary to take the space I need for myself.

“Miniature awakenings that keep me vulnerable to moonbeams and allow feelings to pathfind.”

Have you ever heard such a lovely sentiment? I’ve experienced many “mini awakenings” as Chew-Bose referred. Being receptive to those awakenings is the difficult part. They can be mistaken as setbacks, but really they are gentle corrections towards where I need to be going. This quote gave me an understanding to take the awakenings with open arms.

This collection of essays found me at time when I’ve been struggling. Relentless job searching over the past six months has left me drained and quite frankly, hopeless. But while reading this, I felt relief. Chew-Bose manages to capture every emotion that seems impossible to express appropriately.

Too Much and Not the Mood is personal by learning about Chew-Bose’s life and thoughts, yet also “personal” in the exploration of how writing captures and fails to capture the self. Chew-Bose masters both a more traditional essay that shows change and growth and of an experimental form that mimics a beating heart at the same time as it reaches toward the indescribable.

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