An Independent Best Book of 2021
“[Ellmann] delivers these diatribes with her signature wit and humor ... Each essay is accompanied by an illustration by artist Diana Hope, which complements the colorful nature of this collection. Fans of Ellmann will likely delight in Things Are Against Us.”—Chicago Review of Books
The author of the Goldsmiths Prize-winning and Booker-shortlisted blockbuster Ducks, Newburyport returns with a rollicking new collection of satirical essays
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. As Yeats pointed out, things have a lot to answer for. These satirical essays jauntily tackle the obstinacy, incorrigibility, and recalcitrance of things, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s unimpressive descriptions of the construction of bobsleds and door latches, and the way we try to stand on our own two feet, put our best foot forward, remain footloose and fancy-free, and inevitably put our foot in it. They also cover the first suggestion the internet offers when you look up the word ‘women’ (spoiler: it’s shoes) and other annoyances (some fatal) of male supremacy, the nobility of buttons, and what the rejection of tourists by Jordanian donkeys should mean for global travel (stop!). Ingrid Bergman and Jane Austen come into it somewhere (Helen Gurley Brown was forcibly removed).
Early versions of some of these essays have appeared in international outlets of record, but others are brand-new and ready for your delectation.
Illustrations by Diana Hope.