In this collection of short nonfiction pieces, LaRizzio (Hey, Milkman!, 2011, etc.) combines a philosopher’s perspective with a poet’s use of language to “capture common moments, increments of time made special by the pace and depth with which they were experienced and embraced.” Many of them take place on a deck where LaRizzio watches the sun rise, a cemetery where he walks among the trees, and in front of the glucose meter that his diabetes compels him to check frequently (“I hold my breath and prick my flesh, then await my electronic critic’s insentient decree”). The essays are brief—many are less than a page long, and few extend beyond two—and the dated entries cover a brief period from 2001 to 2003. LaRizzio is aware of how his contemplative nature places distance between himself and most of the rest of society (“they’d never comprehend the virtue in the hours spent sitting still and dreaming”), but he maintains his inward focus and his commitment to considering the smallest details of life throughout the book. Occasionally, the focus shifts to his interactions with others, as in an early encounter with an apparent Transportation Security Administration officer (“I stood in horror as a crewcut thug in latex glove and leather boots handled it [a glucose meter] to his whim and satisfaction”), but LaRizzio clearly prefers to chronicle his relationships with nonhuman components of his environment. The essays’ considered language may seem overwrought to some readers (“The contest for the sky has been concluded, and for this hour, it’s clear the sun has been the victor”). Others, though, will embrace its poetic qualities. Throughout the book, he clearly shows a passion for deep thought and engagement with the natural world.
This earnest collection of essays on nature and self takes a close look at one individual’s experience.