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I'll Tell You in Person

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,944 ratings  ·  168 reviews
Flailing in jobs, failing at love, getting addicted and un-addicted to people, food, and drugs—I'll Tell You in Person is a disarmingly frank account of attempts at adulthood and all the less than perfect ways we get there. Caldwell has an unsparing knack for looking within and reporting back what's really there, rather than what she'd like you to see. ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Coffee House Press
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  1,944 ratings  ·  168 reviews

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Jason Diamond
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Never thought I'd miss being young, broke, and trying to find my way through this world, but damn does Caldwell make it all seem really romantic and wonderful. ...more
I don't like most personal essays because they don't feel personal enough. They skip right over the shit I actually care about. Or they have no point at all. These essays were interesting, funny, and personal - like long emails from a really close friend. It's not just a bunch of Now I'm Going To Tell You About the Time I Did Something Foolish in My 20s that Only My Mother and Perhaps My Therapist Will Give a Shit About (And the Latter Only Because I Pay Her But It's On a Sliding Scale Because I ...more
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
"I'll Tell You in Person" is a perfect title for this quirky and fascinating book, is also a selection of Emily Books which specializes in publishing, sales, and the promotion of women's writing. Author Chloe Caldwell, now 30, recalled the decade of her 20's in these intimate confessional essays. In starting and stopping both college and various jobs, she worked in a jewelry store as a top salesperson, was befriended by a popular celebrity, visited and stayed with her brother in Berlin, and much ...more
Vicky Griffith
May 31, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
I can't believe I read this whole horrible book. ...more
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Relatable and a quick read, I finished it in one night. I confess I don't understand all the rave reviews here on Goodreads; I wouldn't call it a series of essays so much as a collection of anecdotes - competently written, granted, but so self-focused that I felt it was a little self-indulgent; name-dropping and reminiscing for the author's sake. It read more like journal entries for Chloe to come back to in her 40s and 50s. It didn't have a larger thematic import. I understand the essays are me ...more
Garrett Peace
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Rating: 2.5

I feel bad rating this so low. It kept my attention, and Caldwell is a decent writer, but after so many stories about being wasted and/or high, having sex, and generally indulging in the wild side of youth . . . I guess I just wonder what the point of it all is? What am I supposed to gain from this? I’m not a woman in my late 20s (obviously), so maybe it’s just an inability to identify and to see romance in recklessness where others do. The writing isn’t good enough—or potent enough i
Jul 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
Emaline Lapinski
May 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
When I was in college, a common question posed to me by my creative nonfiction professor during our writing workshops was, "Why did you write this? What are you trying to say?" I felt myself asking these questions during the majority of "I'll Tell You in Person."

Caldwell's essays are well-written and have a strong voice. Her essays about struggling with her sexuality were particularly effective, and really capture how Caldwell lives her life: no labels, free as a bird, "why not?" attitude. But
Emily Wood
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think I read this at the exact point in my life that I needed it. I devoured this book and cried a lot and felt like I was less alone for a while. Thank you, Chloe.
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Chloe Caldwell really knows how to get a reader invested in the story and then twist the knife! I was impressed with the casual hooks she'd use to make her story accessible and when it took a turn towards surprise or heartbreak I was still right there, feeling all the feelings I'm sure she wanted me to experience. I had a great time reading/learning about her and I look forward to more memoir/nonfiction in the future! ...more
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
So fun to read these essays. Chloe Caldwell has a knack for picking out the minute details of a life that give the greater themes of her essays life and color. This feels like the older-sister companion to her first collection of essays, "Legs Get Led Astray" (which is funny, since I read the first in my earlier 20s and am reading this now, at 28) and is extremely relatable (except it sounds like Chloe's been to way cooler parties than me). Felt like getting a series of eloquent emails from a fr ...more
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Two of the highest compliments I can give to a book are that they make me write, and that I recognize pieces of myself in a story about a person who is quite different from me.This book did both.

Caldwell is funny, and has lived a life that is both quite ordinary and altogether memorable at the same time. About essays her Dad declares, "All essay collections should be called the same thing 'Feel Sorry For Me: I Fucked Up Eighteen Times and I'm About To Do It Again" and appropriately sometimes I t
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"I’m also the type of person who gets mistaken for an employee no matter where I am: the Gap, a coffee shop, a bookstore, an Applebee’s. People come up to me and expect me to wait on them. 'I don’t work here,' I say. But I used to."

So much good stuff. Thought-provoking, fun, relatable. I could read these all day long.

A tad name-droppy at times but it doesn't spoil the 5-star rating.
Ryan Mosseau
Jun 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Read halfway and couldn't do it anymore. Sorry, Chloe. ...more
Oct 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
People are different and have different kind of problems. I get that. And I'm usually interested in a lot of different experiences and in empathising with all kind of different lifes. But I'm probably just too old (and wise?) for this kind of annoying self centred stuff. You don't have real problems, if you are making them up yourself and then complain about them. ...more
Oct 02, 2019 added it
Shelves: read-in-2019
I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell was a great personal essay collection for #storyseptember. @hayhails shared this one with me awhile ago, and I’m so glad I finally read it. These essays were entertaining and funny, while also feeling really reflective.

These essays are mostly about Caldwell’s life in her 20s, from working at a jewelry store, to babysitting for Cheryl Strayd’s kids, to her very difficult struggle with cystic acne. I especially loved the piece about her friendship with Mag
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"I do not consider myself a political person. I never have been. A female author—I cannot remember who—once wrote something like, ‘I’m not political in my writing, why should I be? If you look at my life, I’m political in the way I live.’ It comforted me to no end. I do not watch the news. I read a little. I'm too sensitive for it and too dumb. But when I read that, I thought, Yeah! I don’t talk about women writers needing to be read, but I wrote a book that didn’t have any men in it without eve ...more
Nov 02, 2016 added it
Shelves: garbage, 2016
this book definitely sucked me in; I started reading it last night around 12:30 and finished it about twelve hours later. I was put off by all the adoration for Lena Dunham and the name-dropping and how she casually talks about her addiction to heroin made me feel uncomfortable for some reason. I guess I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy it because I think that I did but I feel like we are flooded with collections of personal essays and at some point they all start saying the same thing. yeah, yo ...more
Anna Pulley
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"We loved each other, but we loved ourselves more." What a short, sweet burst of choppy malaise, literal and figurative ecstasy, and making peace with the mundane. A great, quick read, full of heart. And drugs. But mostly heart. ...more
Angela Gibson
Oct 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
The subject matter of this memoir just wasn't for me. It might have been written well, but I couldn't get past the content. ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Ok so. I picked up this book because Caldwell’s “Women” was mentioned in The L Word Gen Q and I wanted to read that but the library only had this one. Lolllll.

Chloe Caldwell is a white girl writing about the nostalgic trifecta of drugs, youth, and shitty choices. She mines her personal experiences and psyche with a blunt, witty, and entirely un-self-aware attitude that, if you have the patience for it, becomes surprisingly enjoyable and addictive to read. Consuming this book is the literary equ
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
loooooved this

it literally felt like I was just sitting with a friend listening to them ramble on about their life. The way Caldwell writes is so engaging and intriguing. Even though the essays are based around stories that have never happened to me, I found the whole thing extremely relatable and saw a lot of myself in the stories Caldwell was telling. It was raw and open and honest and I loved it

Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A new favorite. Other personal essay collections pale in comparison.
Sarah Mclaughlin
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
LOVED the writing. Identified with a lot of the stories. Love the short essay format.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a book of essays by a 20-something living in NY. She’s a good writer. She talks about doing drugs a lot, and that made me sad.
Emma Roche
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Casual and fun. Related extremely in some ways and not at all in others.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: messy-chics
The essays in the final chapter of the book seemed to drag a bit. Chloe suffers from depression and reading about her depression in those final essays made me depressed. Now I’m going to start reading her first book of essays.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this by the pool, which is the perfect setting for feeling bad for/about yourself and reading about someone else who also feels bad for/about herself.
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is a gospel for the mediocre and for all who look for inspiration in the department of Normcore. Rejoice! I enjoyed this title mostly because it was a quick read with occasional poignancy and laugh. The right material for your holiday chill time. The downside was that this was composed of a number of unimportant or seemingly irrelevant elements, somehow unedited and here in print. Given this is such a slim volume--only 170pages--, it might sound scandalous if I said that I was exaspera ...more
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
You know what I like about this book? The way it's written so sporadically that it makes more sense than if it followed a set path. The way you're reading along in some whirlwind and then it all gets summed up in one sentence. It's like a release - a small epiphany. It feels right. It feels real.

My favorite chapter: The Girls of My Youth

The final two sentences are perfect.
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Chloe Caldwell is the author of the critically acclaimed novella, WOMEN (Short Flight/Long Drive, 2014) and the essay collection I'LL TELL YOU IN PERSON (CoffeeHouse/Emily Books).

Chloe's work has been published in Buzzfeed, New York Magazine, Vice, Lenny Letter, Salon, The Rumpus, The Sun, Nylon, Men's Health, and half a dozen anthologies.

Chloe teaches creative nonfiction at Catapult in Manhattan

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