cover image Beyond Measure: Essays

Beyond Measure: Essays

Rachel Z. Arndt. Sarabande, $15.95 ISBN 978-1-946448-13-2

This first collection of essays from Arndt, a former Iowa Review nonfiction editor now working as a reporter for Modern Healthcare, is a delight to read. Arndt prompts readers to examine the “measurements” imposed on their lives. As one example from her own life, she describes undergoing sleep studies when she began struggling with narcolepsy. From a judo competition to a nerve-wracking, never-ending bus ride across Iowa with raucous “bros” as travel companions, Arndt astutely describes mundane scenarios with humor and wit, observing of the latter experience, “It’s hard not to giggle while ignoring a shirtless, sunburned man chugging beer from a headless lawn-ornament flamingo.” Her experiences will particularly resonate with female readers, who will identify with her coping mechanisms for dealing with sexist measurements imposed by society, from stereotypes of narcoleptic women as hysterical and attention seeking to false constraints placed on female intelligence and physical strength. Her tone is poignant and undogmatic: reflecting on being pressured to lose weight for a Junior Olympics competition, she muses, “How odd and inappropriate it seems to put a nine- or 10-year-old on a treadmill to lose weight,” but adds, “I am finding fault in retrospect.” Arndt’s debut provides close insight into one woman’s personal struggles while never becoming overbearing or overly solemn.[em] (Apr.) [/em]