Can You Tolerate This?: Personal Essays
Victoria University Press, $30.00,
The title of Wellington poet, blogger, and editor Ashleigh Young’s new collection is a challenge issued in somewhat the same spirit as the title of Hera Lindsay Bird’s poetry collection: Hera Lindsay Bird. That is, it is a challenge delivered without apology. This is a personal book. Here you will encounter a young woman writing about – or at least from – her life. This has traditionally been a dangerous position to speak from, with authors liable to be dismissed as self-indulgent and “over-sharing” or, at the other end of the spectrum, as liable to generate too much, and too prurient, an interest. But Young’s and Bird’s position (like that of American phenomenon Lena Dunham) is, if you don’t like it, read something else. They also, however, invite you to take up the challenge to read their writing. Can You Tolerate This? You’re likely to find it worthwhile.
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