The word essay derives from the French infinitive “essayer” which means “to try” or “to attempt.” An essay is the attempt to answer a question. In a recent Behind the Book interview, Cinelle Barnes shares her reason for writing is not because she knows, but because she wants to know. The art of writing is essentially the ability and courage to share stories that will take readers on a journey of self-reflection and growth.
Ira Sukrungruang has mastered the personal essay.
Ira’s “Buddha’s Dog & Other Meditations” was the first book I read this year where, when I finished, I had to exhale an audible “wow” to no one in particular but myself.
Through an anachronic conglomerate of essays, Ira documents and analyzes the stories his family told him and his childhood experiences as an over-weight and timid Thai-American boy born and raised in Chicago. It is difficult to fully recap this novel given its uniqueness in form and style, just trust that it is a book worth reading ESPECIALLY if you are a lover of creative non-fiction and memoir.
As a writer, this book gave me so many ideas about form and prompts for stories to dig into. As a reader, I found myself circling and underlining everywhere. This author is a brilliant storyteller and I was left in awe of the final product he created with this novel.