A debut collection offers columns and op-ed pieces written for periodicals around the country.
Everyday pleasures, irritations, and quirks get center stage in Silverman’s essays. Whether she’s writing about the sublime joy of peanut butter, the inexplicable rudeness of neighbors who shovel their snow onto adjoining properties, the disappearance from the shelves of her favorite products, or the value of Post-it notes, her wry observations and musings ring with authenticity and familiarity. Not many people are so able to hold readers’ attention while discussing the perfection of yellow lined paper versus white. (Silverman does all her writing by hand.) Of the dreaded white pad, she declares: “It’s daunting, that blank surface, staring back at me. It is demanding and austere….‘Something you don’t like?’ it seems to suggest. ‘Well, learn to live with it.’ ” Then there’s her charming obsession with her old dictionary despite the unused new one sitting nearby: “Should I throw out the dictionary that I’ve used for twenty-five years, that has all but fallen apart? Or should I grant yet another stay of execution, and return it to its shelf?” In fact, a love of words, sentence structure, and books is evident throughout these carefully composed essays that maintain a comfortable, conversational tone. While most of her contemplations are light in nature, the conventional subjects—a shopping trip, the origin of a recipe, the tenacity of fallen leaves to return after they have been blown into a pile—are enhanced with humor and a delightful hint of snark. Still, the volume is best enjoyed in measured doses. Along the way, the author delivers some valuable words of wisdom. Especially tender are the sections that deal with the last few months of her mother’s life. Knowing she was dying, her mom wanted to visit her own mother’s grave. When she insisted on bending down to straighten the flowers they brought to lay at the gravesite, Silverman realized that this action was “the final gesture of a daughter saying goodbye to her mother.”
Edgy, whimsical, and poignant essays about ordinary triumphs and travails.