Sometimes I Think About It: Essays

Stephen Elliott. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-55597-775-7
In 13 essays that compare favorably to the best of 1960s New Journalism, Elliott (The Adderall Diaries) explores the traumas of his own life and also reports on culturally loaded news stories, often centered in California. In the former category, Elliott discusses a troubled childhood that was marked by an abusive father, repeated suicide attempts, and sleeping in a broom closet during bouts of homelessness. The it of the title refers to suicide, and Elliott captures depression’s atmospheric details accurately and eloquently: “The day leaks away like air from a slowly deflating tire.” His journalistic efforts here include an account of an armored car ride through the Israeli countryside, a disturbing glimpse into California’s juvenile penal code, and an exploration of the tech boom in Los Angeles’s Silicon Beach framed by an investigation into the bizarre murder of a homeless man. The best piece in this collection, “The Score,” is a meditation on loss and longing that ricochets artfully between the breakup of an affair, drug use, politics, and the 1990s Chicago Bulls. Elsewhere, Elliott describes ending a sadomasochistic relationship with a woman in an open marriage, so, to be clear, these essays may not appeal to a wide readership. Nonetheless, Elliott’s honesty and vulnerability are gripping and the basic emotional truths he analyzes are relatable, despite the unconventional details involved. Agent: Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/10/2017
Release date: 11/07/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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