Archives for posts with tag: Self Help

This one, “How,” was written by Lorrie Moore and it is gutting. It’s in the second person, and it is about love and pain and neither, because it’s really about how to leave, how it ends, how to fall out of love.

You. What a tricky word. And love is another one of those, the kind of word that seems small but has so many nuanced meanings, and some of them are so big that they seem outsized, and the word is overloaded, a dense small thing plummeting within you. You, again.

“How” is about a woman loving a man until she doesn’t anymore, and she doesn’t know how to leave, or she if wants to, until she does. It is complicated, her relationship with this person, and her feelings about it. She is cruel to the man sometimes, even when he is nice to her, and she feels smothered by his goodness a little, maybe, or perhaps it’s something else, but sometimes she loves him and sometimes she doesn’t, and then by the end she doesn’t ever, anymore, and there is not real reason why she does or doesn’t because that kind of how it works.

The Chairs, Bookside Table, EM Keeler

The best thing about The Chairs Are Where the People Go is the way that Misha Glouberman talks about his frustrations. The book’s forward, written by Sheila Heti, describes the text that follows as the product of morning meetings, where Glouberman would talk to her about “everything he knows.” As it turns, out, he knows a lot about negotiation, about managing expectations, and about how people communicate with each other. That’s why, I guess, he also seems to know so much about frustration.

The book is arranged into little meditations of various lengths that are centered on a specific idea, observation, or experience. A lot of them are about the games that Glouberman teaches as part of his Charades classes (–Yeah, he teaches classes on how to be good at playing charades–) : “Get Louder or Quit”, “The Gibberish Game”, “The Conducting Game”, “Fighting Games”, and, naturally enough, “How to Play Charades”. (There’s also one called “These Projects Don’t Make Money”.) There are sections on conferencing, on neighborhoods, on why getting piss drunk is only fun when you’re still really young, and on quitting smoking and wearing a suit. But a lot of them are about living in a city and remembering a lot of almost obvious things that I, for one, often forget: For instance, one section is called “Doing One Thing Doesn’t Mean You’re Against Something¬† Else”, which uses a few examples from Glouberman’s work with Trampoline Hall and his experimental noise classes to illustrate his point, being that choosing to set some perimeters on whatever you’re doing or making doesn’t automatically mean you oppose everything outside of those perimeters (“Like, if you write a book about Paris, it’s not a statement that no book should ever take place in New York.”). This is helpful advice, and the book has a lot of similarly simple ideas that are sometimes not put so simply in our day to day lives.

In fact, The Chairs, with Glouberman’s casual and friendly tone fueling an abundance of good advice, is arguably a self help book. But before I read it, I didn’t realize just how badly I needed the help.