cover image The Book of Explanations

The Book of Explanations

Tedi López Mills, trans. from the Spanish by Robin Myers. Deep Vellum, $16.95 t

Mils (Against the Current) combines the eye of a poet with the rigor of a philosopher in incisive essays that probe imagination, guilt, and jealousy. In “Portrait of a Reader as a Young Woman,” she reflects on her adolescence in Mexico City and her construction of her own identity: “All she wanted was to be alone,” she writes of her former self, “immersed in her inner life where nothing was happening yet.” Skepticism is examined in “My Other Isms,” as it “fractures my temperament, like a faulty machine asserting itself out of inertia, arguing just to prove it has a skeleton,” while “Cats and ‘I’” asserts that felines have “mastered absurdity like no other creatures.” Mills explores a wealth of questions to great effect, including how optimism affects pessimism, why the middle class in Mexico often faces poverty with silence and inaction, and what the relationship between wisdom and goodness might be: “I don’t know if wisdom equates to happiness. I suspect not,” she writes in “On the Production of Wisdom.” These passionate and original essays sing. (May)