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I Wrote This Book Because I Love You: Essays

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*A People Top 10 Book of 2018*

The New York Times essayist and author of We Learn Nothing, Tim Kreider trains his singular power of observation on his (often befuddling) relationships with women.

Psychologists have told him he’s a psychologist. Philosophers have told him he’s a philosopher. Religious groups have invited him to speak. He had a cult following as a cartoonist. But, above all else, Tim Kreider is an essayist—one whose deft prose, uncanny observations, dark humor, and emotional vulnerability have earned him deserved comparisons to David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and the late David Foster Wallace (who was himself a fan of Kreider’s humor).

“Beautifully written, with just enough humor to balance his spikiness” (Booklist), I Wrote This Book Because I Love You focuses Tim’s unique perception and wit on his relationships with women—romantic, platonic, and the murky in-between. He talks about his difficulty finding lasting love and seeks to understand his commitment issues by tracking down the John Hopkins psychologist who tested him for a groundbreaking study on attachment when he was a toddler. He talks about his valued female friendships, one of which landed him on a circus train bound for Mexico. He talks about his time teaching young women at an upstate New York college, and the profound lessons they wound up teaching him. And in a hugely popular essay that originally appeared in The New York Times, he talks about his nineteen-year-old cat, wondering if it’s the most enduring relationship he’ll ever have.

“In a style reminiscent of Orwell, E.B. White and David Sedaris” (The New York Times Book Review), each of these pieces is “heartbreaking, brutal, and hilarious” (Judd Apatow), and collectively they cement Kreider’s place among the best essayists working today.

206 pages, Hardcover

First published February 6, 2018

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About the author

Tim Kreider

11 books380 followers
Tim Kreider is an essayist and cartoonist. His comic "The Pain--When Will It End?" ran in the Baltimore City Paper for 12 years and was collected in three books by Fantagraphics. His first collection of essays, "We Learn Nothing," was published by Free Press in 2012. He has written for The New York Times, The Men's Journal, Nerve.com, The Comics Journal, and Film Quarterly. He is at work on a new collection for Simon & Schuster, "I Wrote This Book Because I Love You." He lives in an Undisclosed Location on the Chesapeake Bay.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 207 reviews
Profile Image for M. Sarki.
Author 16 books200 followers
January 5, 2018

Any serious self-examiner who may consider him or herself a discerning reader, will completely miss out on an uplifting and enjoyable reading experience if caught up in ignoring this book because of its title. Obviously, Mr. Kreider, on surface, could have come up with a better choice. But the hype surrounding it, and all the publisher’s included blurbs, at first made me excited enough to read this book regardless of the corny title. My rather lukewarm reception and relative non-engagement with the very first essay severely disappointed me however. But, in fairness, his second essay, titled Kind of Love, happened and all was forgiven. In it the ex-cartoonist, Kreider, is reversely propositioned by a performance artist doubling as a successful prostitute, and the book definitely becomes for me a potentially interesting read. Her offer of a no-strings-attached appreciation-blow job followed by the fortuitous opportunity of his spending an entire week with her at his secluded cabin seemed to me to be an extraordinary proposition. They spend hours discussing questions of existence and relationships, not to mention a few other experimental behaviors.

…We both suffered from bouts of abysmal self-doubt, and each sometimes lay awake at night wondering O what is to become of me?…

This second essay offered many reasons for self-reflection, and even as I continued on reading Kreider’s further essays, I was astounded by the quality and interest still generated by that amazing second one.

…I’ve often thought that if I’d been impressed into an arranged marriage with one of my old girlfriends I’d’ve been perfectly happy—or at least no unhappier than I am now…

Kreider is so refreshingly honest on the page, and though he makes no excuses nor apologies for his being so forthright, he realizes his flaws and humbly submits them to a meaner reader’s criticism. David Foster Wallace publicly declared, “Kreider Rules”. And the more I read of him I too get what Wallace was saying.

…I suspect the more unsettling truth is that there are quite a lot of people out there you could fall in love and spend your life with, if you let yourself…The romantic ideal whereby the person you love, the person you have sex with, and the person you own property and have children with should all be the same person is a more recent invention than the telescope.

The essays keep getting better and better. Even if a reader believes he or she is involved in what could be considered a healthy relationship, Kreider provides ideas and anecdotes that further the discussion and examination of one’s self. An amazingly intelligent and interesting read. Not myself a cat lover, Kreider even suggests that feline romance might be looked into as well as he goes into great detail regarding his own nineteen-year relationship with a once-stray cat.

…having been given up at birth…It wasn’t until I found myself still single in my forties, long after all my friends—even the most obvious misfits, womanizers, sots and misogynists—had successfully mated and reproduced, that I started to wonder whether it hadn’t had some more significant effect.

Kreider’s adoptive mother volunteered him at John Hopkins University for a psychological study as an infant. His brilliant and charming essay, The Strange Situation, goes into great detail over his search for answers over why he is the way he is and his investigative research into a study that had been previously kept secretly protected.

…“Whereas if I was securely attached as an infant”, I told Margot, “it would mean that I’m not a victim of some primal loss or trauma but just another dickhead.”
“My point exactly,” she said. “Even if you were traumatized, and even if you had some scientifically documented evidence for this, you are still ultimately responsible for any dickhead behavior.”…

Refreshing today to actually hear somebody state existentially that we are responsible for our own behavior, and our lives. So much blame on our mothers these days. Not to mention the trashing of our dads. A reminder that without these flawed characters reproducing we wouldn’t have had the opportunity of a lifetime. I am forever grateful my parents had me. Of course, things could have been better, but here I am working out my own existence, attempting to evolve, and struggling through my nagging frustrations.

…Church was boring, make no mistake—the drawings I did in bulletins could fill a multivolume set of notebooks—but at least it wasted far fewer hours of my life than school…Ceasing to believe what your parents and all the other nicest grown-ups you know have always taught you, and still believe themselves, is initially liberating, but it’s also alienating. It makes you feel secretly snobby, and sorry, and alone.

Kreider especially touches a nerve in this second-to-last essay in the book. There are so many relative points he makes in his always entertaining and enlightening prose. He is funny even when deathly serious. It also becomes obvious throughout that Kreider is simply a pretty good man, still single, but who maintains a growing number of close friends. Relationships that might be rightfully construed as long accomplishments similar to a good marriage.

…Although Lauren doesn’t love the idea of dying any more than the next person, it doesn’t especially upset her to believe that life is meaningless or the universe indifferent. She thinks people like me, taught as children that a just and loving God is watching over the sparrows, feel bereft, cheated of something promised. Which is why we’re the ones who suffer these chronic cases of existential despair.
Profile Image for jeremy.
1,114 reviews276 followers
November 24, 2017
or maybe that's just the sort of horseshit you have to tell yourself to get through the nights. maybe love and patriotism are both adolescent illusions, scams to get us to have babies and kill strangers, and those irreplaceable years were simply lost to folly.
prior to espying this book's striking (if not starkly unsettling) cover, i was altogether unfamiliar with tim kreider, as either cartoonist or writer. 200-some pages later, however, i cannot imagine a world without tim kreider. the dozen essays that compose his new collection, i wrote this book because i love you, show kreider to be erudite, forthright, vulnerable, self-deprecating, reflective, darkly hilarious, and one hell of an entertaining writer.
of course she was secretly a quivering insecure mess inside like everyone else. her flamboyant coloration was actually less for sexual display than a kind of protective mimicry—that adaptation whereby a harmless animal imitates a deadly one, pretending to be venomous when all it wants is not to get eaten alive.
using his past romantic relationships as a lens through which to explore both himself and the world around him, kreider candidly situates his own romantic strife amidst the context of a culture which, frankly, doesn't make much sense to a thinking, feeling, or even vaguely observant person. i wrote this book because i love you is unabashed, revealing, and conspicuously expressive. each of the twelve essays in kreider's collection (which offers two epigraphs: mister rogers and nietzsche!) shines individually, but, as a whole, provide for a telling snapshot of the author himself and our shared modern milieu. whether ruminating upon cats, the so-called global war on terror, atheism and faith, polyamory, psychological study, prostitution, or a wayward email (again, all with his female friendships as anchor), kreider deftly maneuvers through even the most disparate of topics—crafting moving and engrossing essays which captivate as easily as they lead one to contemplate.
hearing other people's uncensored opinions of you is an unpleasant reminder that you're just another person in the world and everyone else does not always view you in the forgiving light that you hope they will—making allowances, assuming good intentions, always on your side. there's something existentially scary about finding out how little room we occupy, and how little allegiance we command, in other people's hearts.
tim kreider's i wrote this book because i love you is a rousing work. his autobiographical essays elicit laughter and emotion in equal measure. with the seemingly recent (and to-be-celebrated!) resurgence of the essay as admired art form, count kreider as the learned jester, the playful philosopher, or the gently misanthropic chronicler of things personal and profound.
anyone worth knowing is inevitably also going to be complicated, difficult, and exasperating—making the same obvious mistakes over and over, squandering their money, dating imbeciles, endlessly relapsing into dumb addictions and self-defeating habits, blind to their own hilarious flaws and blatant contradictions and fiercely devoted to whatever keeps them miserable. (and those few people about whom there is nothing ridiculous are the most ridiculous of all).
Profile Image for Gretchen Rubin.
Author 43 books84.1k followers
August 5, 2022
Terrific essays; I just bought another collection by Tim Kreider.
5 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2020
It seems cruel that I can gorge myself in two days on the work that took a sharp mind years to create. It is cruel to me because I became addicted to a substance, these essays, that is not infinite in supply. There’s twelve essays here, and when I finished the last one, I scoured the acknowledgement and the copyright page for any possible loose powder, snarling and clawing and in a lot of pain with the tail end of ecstasy receding. It is cruel to Tim Kreider because he created these essays, conceived, grew and gave birth to them, and all I can say is dear god please give me more. When I finished Our War on Terror, the last line was so bright I had to look away. I threw the book across the room in an act of love. I envy every person who hasn’t already consumed their life’s quota of Tim Kreider’s writing.
Profile Image for Valerity (Val).
941 reviews2,736 followers
January 30, 2018
This book is a group of essays by the author written on the subject of love in different circumstances with a humorous bent. It is my first experience with his writing and I'd never heard of him before. I became interested in reading it from the description and found it rather diverse and entertaining as he takes a deep introspective look at his various relationships during his adult life. This serial dater seems to question his choices in women and wonder if it's become obvious that he's a committment-phobe when it comes to women, now that he's in his forties and still has only ever lived with a cat.

An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, Tim Kreider, and Simon & Schuster for my review. Publication date is Feb. 6, 2018
Profile Image for Michelle.
589 reviews159 followers
December 30, 2017
The psychological aspects of author essayist Tim Kreider’s bachelorhood in relation to his long term relationships with several women are explored in “I Wrote This Book Because I Love You”. These fascinating, humorous and entertaining essays cover a period of about two decades. Kreider candidly explored his near obsessional love for a close married friend, his brief affair with a sex worker, a love relationship with a pastor that established her own church, and others.

There is a much needed “Dramatis Personae” that explained the cast of characters contained in the essays, letting readers know who’s who. “Death Defying Acts” opens with his unusual relationship with Annie; who, as a circus performer invented her colorful and exciting life as she went along. Annie suggested Kreider join her in Mexico, so they could get married (for her own protection)—instead, he often posed as her husband rather than officially tying the knot.

Originally from Baltimore, Kreider, also a cartoonist-- compared his profession to being a poet. Few were “lured” into these professions by “groupie action” or financial security. Most of his followers and fans were punks, bearded conspiracy theorists, or Satanists. Before the internet evolved featuring the popular dating apps singles enjoy today, Kreider was contacted by a “pleasure activist”-- who had a teenage psych history that included admission in a mental hospital. His cartoons helped her get through a dark period of her life. Although about 65% of his time with her was spent waiting as she prepared for public appearances, she had an interesting dual use for “Violet” her purple oversized coat.

Once Kreider rented a heard of goats, and sent out a mass email with photos to prove it. The reasons for this business venture were unclear. Despite his reluctance to be known as “the cat guy” Kreider wrote with much fondness and devotion of the cat he has had for 19 years.
After his next door neighbor had a screaming melt-down, totally losing his s**t—Kreider marveled at seeing him out on the street about 20 minutes later-- calm, collected as if nothing had ever happened.
Protest and activism (some associated with 9/11) included going to Washington D.C. with his married friend and staying with her in a local hotel. As a total good guy, he slept on the floor, but it didn’t alter his strong feelings for her.

When Kreider moved to NYC, it was typically a challenge to remain financially stable; he sublet a fifth floor walk-up during a heatwave. Writing, he noted was about as meaningful as doing his taxes. Two of his former girlfriends had attended Scott College, and suggested he apply there for a teaching position. He got the position, and was immediately warned about the young uninhibited female students who would come-on to him. One of his strengths didn’t exactly involve resisting temptation, his male friends gave him a hard time, yet he had no intention of ever getting sexually involved with a student.
To his credit, none of his relationships ended with drama or bad feelings, and he remained on good terms with all his former girlfriends. This seemed a bit unusual, though it worked for him. Kreider’s relationships improved and seemed continue in a mutually supportive positive direction.
**With thanks and appreciation to Simon & Schuster via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.
Profile Image for Bibliophile10.
165 reviews4 followers
March 13, 2018
Kreider remains one of my favorite essayists. This collection might be a little bit more cynical and a little bit more OK with being cynical than We Learn Nothing, but there's formidable energy and thought radiating from each page—enough to remind me that in a confusing, apathy-inducing world, reflection, introspection, and humor are still worth more than the calories they burn.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
November 21, 2021
This was, like his other books, really insightful and a treat to read. I want more Kreider!
Profile Image for Renata.
2,478 reviews334 followers
July 30, 2019
This is the book that contains that much-quoted essay about how "if you want to enjoy the rewards of being loved, you also have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known." That's pretty much the high mark of this collection. Overall, it's an enjoyable essay collection with a lot of killer sentences in it. There's some self-reflection that is a little bit cringey, but that's the point of it, I suppose?
Profile Image for Ian Holmes.
85 reviews5 followers
March 20, 2018
Tim Kreider, as always, manages to find the little things in my head that I didn't know anyone else knew, and put them down on paper. He's one of my absolute favorite writers and delivers in spades in this new book.
Profile Image for Matt.
149 reviews24 followers
April 19, 2021
Tim Kreider's politically charged drawings, memorialized today in several collected volumes, offered me belly laughs during the Bush years. As Tim puts it himself, Being a cartoonist during the Bush administration was like being a landscape painter at Krakatoa: each day brought some new affront to common sense or human decency as comedic fodder; the people in power were a rogues' gallery of grotesques out of Dick Tracy. It may have been self-preservation that led Kreider to decide to give up both political commentary as well as cartooning to focus on writing essays. I confess that I miss the political skewering and I miss the drawings. But Kreider still very much finds a way to put himself on the page. If the belly laughs come less frequently with these essays, it's mostly because his lens is so squarely placed on himself and his own feelings of inadequacy.

[S]howing someone a rough draft is more terrifying than being naked in front of them

This author, an artist on the downhill side of 40, has never quite graduated to the state of cohabitating with a romantic interest, his most successful long-term relationship having been a 19-year commitment to a territory-marking cat. So of course he has decided to publish a book of essays about his relationships with women. It does say something about Kreider's fondness for absurdism and despair.

[I]n the short time since our breakup I've also been carrying on a torrid and voluble strangers-on-a-train correspondence with a doctoral candidate in philosophy, asked out a woman in a bar in Delaware whose last name I don't know, gone on a date with a jaw-droppingly busty grad student in social work, spent a weekend in a hotel room doing the Times crossword naked with an Albertan chess player, and, throughout, have been lusting pathetically after a checkout girl at my local supermarket whose hair is a lustrous tangled Pre-Raphaelite mass of Celtic red and whose rump is full and jutting in her taut khaki Food King-issue pants. What is wrong with me?

We're only getting one side of the story, of course, but the only thing seemingly wrong with Kreider is that he long ago opted against a 9-to-5 job and a house in Westchester, and he has lived a life unmoored. One doesn't sense that he made the wrong decisions for himself except that he isn't shy about expressing regret. "One reason people cling so loyally to their maladaptive patterns is that, once you've recognized them, the narrative you've constructed to rationalize them unravels and suddenly your whole life can look like a sad stupid waste." It's compelling to see Kreider vacillate between adolescent tendencies and erudite reflection, a talented writer with a complex that won't let him entirely grow up. "You're not living up to your potential," says an ex-girlfriend.

Says Tim, "At no point do you learn the big secret, become privy to some wisdom that enables you to move through the world with assurance."

If nothing else, Kreider has a terrific talent for getting naked before his reader, reflecting, and expressing. "If you want to enjoy the rewards of being loved, you also have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known."
Profile Image for Kirk.
83 reviews8 followers
February 20, 2018
When talking authors, there are few to whom I refer by truncated first name as opposed to the more respected or sanctimonious surname (what Seinfeld called the 'John Houseman' name). It's tough to imagine 'Johnny', 'Billy', or 'Jimmy' writing East of Eden, Absalom, Absalom!, or Ulysses. I can't imagine The Shining as being written by 'Steve', or even Night of the Living Dummy being written by 'Bob'.

Tim is different. Tim is my friend. Tim writes essays, that difficult medium which is two-parts truth and one-part sneaky literary creativity; that difficult medium where he can't hide but he doesn't really want to, which is why he's writing essays in the first place. Tim recently wrote I Wrote This Book Because I Love You, and you can tell by the title what the project is all about. It's a collection of essays exploring different concepts of love, and the most important exploration of all is Tim's desire to connect with you, the reader, and aggravate that sense of loneliness and entrapment. (But please forgive him for the cover art though, which borders on campy.)

Considered together, this collection of essays is fantastic. Tim is a master of simile, and writes with a commanding wit. He is an incredibly unique person, having participated in a published psychological study as a boy, and having grown to never marry and work as a freelance cartoonist and author. A summary of the essays is as follows:

Death-Defying Acts: Tim accompanies his girlfriend Annie to Mexico aboard the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train. Both parties enjoy imagining their own mortality and deaths, and maybe interest in the circus is the same impulse on the part of the viewer.

Kind of Love: Tim recalls his sexual sojourn with "Elektra Bold" a.k.a. "Zoey" a.k.a. Meredith, a "pleasure activist" and fan of his comics. He considers sex as a less-traveled road to honesty, intimacy, and mutual understanding.

Oof: Tim accidentally receives a Reply All criticizing his lack of financial acumen from his agent. He argues this is unpleasant, not because it is patently offensive, but because it proves there is a degree of objective observation about our flaws to which we are not ordinarily privy.

Our War on Terror: Tim recounts admitting his intimate love for his crush Lauren, which occurred coincidentally with the War on Terror and elections of President George W. Bush (2000, 2004). Tim wonders if his time spent secretly loving the married woman and producing political cartoons was wasteful or a prerequisite to some form of maturity.

The Feast of Pain: Tim on suffering as an objective fact of life, and the fact that, sometimes, things just suck.

The Dilemma: Tim is forced to decide between dating either an author of YA fiction or a progressive pastor, exclusively. He takes the opportunity to examine the concept of monogamy, analyzing psychoanalytic theory, his friend Kevin's rocky marriage, and polygamist ex-girlfriend T.J.'s experiences as part of the process.

A Man and His Cat: An essay about Tim and his relationship with his cat "the Quetzal". Humans are social creatures, even if the object of our affections isn't as conscious as us.

The Strange Situation: Tim attempts to learn the results of his participation, as an infant, in a 1968 study on attachment conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University. The essay is structured to read like a psychological publication, complete with an abstract, method, etc. The essay features commentary on attachment and a brief foray into questions about free will, the legitimacy of psychoanalysis, and identity. Tim also includes several details about his friendship and previous relationship with Margot.

On Smushing: Tim considers the ethical implications of killing a variety of nuisance creatures, ranging in size and importance from the lowliest fruit fly to the larger mouse.

Orientation: Tim writes fondly about his semester teaching writing at Scott College, a private school with a predominantly female student body. He juxtaposes his instinctual, non-physical affection for his students with his one-time "Thing" with a woman twenty years younger and her perception that he was behaving advantageously.

The Uncertainty Principle: Tim discusses his softening from hard-line atheism to an "uncertain" atheism in which he does not believe but has more wonder and appreciation for insoluble problems. Tim weaves in his thoughts about Diana, an ex-girlfriend and pastor, who is an exemplary person for her deep joy and nonjudgmental understanding.

I Never Went to Iceland: A brief, reflective essay about the regret of not accomplishing things in life, and yet amassing close friends and funny stories which still amount to a very meaningful life.

The opening piece, "Death-Defying Acts", is far-and-away the weakest in the collection, and I would be interested to know the rationale behind its positioning. The best pieces are either "Our War on Terror" or "The Uncertainty Principle". I'm inclined to suggest the latter; however, I'm willing to hedge the suggestion considering my personal biases, not to mention the recency bias as it practically concludes the collection. One of my favorite moments in the book is Tim's bar-stool analysis of Nietzsche:

"Nietzsche was a preacher's kid. His father, a Lutheran pastor, died when Friedrich was five. Preacher's kids have a reputation as troublemakers. Most of them just go wild in their teens and sleep around or get hooked on coke or total the family car, but Nietzsche, who started out as such a nice boy - a char in philosophy at age twenty-four! - rebelled in a way that the most nihilistic punks and junkies can only envy: by single-handedly trashing a four-thousand-year-old religion." (184)

I Wrote This Book Because I Love You is fantastic; quickly read, not so quickly forgotten, and frequently revisited.
Profile Image for Emi Yoshida.
1,446 reviews82 followers
November 21, 2017
Super smart and charming collection of brilliance and insight. Tim Kreider bravely bares all, from sharing details of his own romantic exploits, to pulling no punches in addressing modern America's foibles. I only wish examples of his comics had also been included, I loved reading about the thinking that went into some of them. If you haven't seen his illustrations, many are Google-able. It's rare that one person can be so talented in two different disciplines (Beatrix Potter and Victor Hugo were two other talented writer-artists). I love how non-formulaic Kreider's writing is, and from each of these essays I learned something different; he even makes his footnotes entertaining! Whether I was in agreement or not, with Kreider's stance or personal philosophy I still enjoyed his explanations of such. It is beautiful how this succession of essays fits together in such a fully memoir-like fashion. Upon finishing I only wish that Kreider could write more, or faster. If his location weren't undisclosed, I'd like to find him and tell him it's not too late to go to Iceland! I cannot wait to read about that, and anything else he produces.
Profile Image for Donna.
100 reviews2 followers
May 6, 2018
Meh. It started strong. I had high hopes. But you can only take a man whining about his dating life for so many pages, and the cat chapter nearly did me in. Writing itself was great, it just got old quick.
76 reviews22 followers
December 3, 2019

Tim Kreider is sometimes my favorite essayist. No one cuts to the essence of a thing quite like him, and certainly not with as much specificity & style (e.g. on discovering old craft Christian propaganda he made in Lutheran nursery: "I hung it up over my desk, less in the spirit of putting up a crucifix than of framing an X-ray"). I re-read Kreider's 'Oof' and Joan Didion's 'On Self-Respect' every few months the way a helmsman keeps glancing at the captain's face, to make sure I'm steering reasonably ok towards being a kinder and more empathetic human being. All his essays contain this same compass material. Because 'Oof' was all I'd read of Kreider's before this book, I'd assumed for some reason he keeps to apolitical, individual-level insights -- surprisingly and pleasantly enough, he delves into politics too -- was, in fact, a political cartoonist before switching camps. I wouldn't read him for political analysis (like, sure, he writes about Iraq, but it's more about his personal impotence as a pro-peace American, and much more about an extra-marital affair emerging concurrently with the war crimes), but when he hits, boy does he hit (on his beloved cat, and human society's tendency to disregard any sign of interiority in animals: "Anyone in the antebellum South who'd considered wrecking his own livelihood out of some crackpot notion of equality might have been accused of anthropomorphizing").

So that's all the good stuff. Here's what's conflicting. I don't know how to feel about his feelings on women. That's the thing with his honesty: I found myself wondering, is this too honest? As my best friend put it, is it really that hard to make the effort and form a healthy, loving attachment with another individual, even after 50 years? Essay after essay, we are subjected to variants on Kreider's romantic failures with vastly younger women. He confronts it (murkily) in the last essay, 'Orientation'. But I suppose that's why I was able to power through the growing unease -- there seems to be a deeper storyline threaded here through the essays, a journey from immaturity to maturity. From running away to the circus with only the pursuit of lust in mind, to avuncular grad teacher who is eventually innoculated against foibles from earlier chapters*. It's most on display in 'The Strange Situation' and seeded in retrospect in other essays too. And I think the blaring giveaway is the book cover: a man cuddling with the image of a perfect woman, content possessing her as little more than a warm sexy pillow. So yes, if you're a sensible woman who respects herself and her kindred, some of this book will be exasperating -- but it's sincere, it's achingly self-aware, and it's Kreider, so what can you do.

*I say this, by the way, not from a place of disdain for sex, or people who freaking love sex, i.e. Kreider. He makes a lovely argument on the absurdity of valuing the physical below the emotional in 'Kind of Love', and he's correct.

Profile Image for Sara.
343 reviews1 follower
January 24, 2019
The author is a cartoonist, but these are autobiographical essays that primarily focus on his romantic relationships and attempts to understand his patterns. In his forties, he's never lived with a woman or had a very serious relationship and he's at a point where he's looking back over everything and trying to make sense of it all, and come to peace with who he is.

Not in the details, but I could relate to this general feeling of wanting to figure out why you are the way you are, and then realizing you can never really know WHY. All you can do is build this narrative that gives you a sense of identity, and then accept that while still believing you can change. I found his writing sincere and clever, as well as insightful. This type of perspective could easily have been irritating or felt self-involved, but the tone was appealing throughout. The essay about his relationship with his cat that delves into attachment theory was the one that best encapsulates the themes.
Profile Image for Lolly K Dandeneau.
1,836 reviews230 followers
November 30, 2017
via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
"I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical anarchic mind could devise would not be on the government, the military, or the financial sector, but simply to simultaneously make every email and text ever sent universally public. It would be like suddenly subtracting the strong nuclear force from the universe: the fabric of society would instantly disintegrate, every marriage, friendship, and business partnership dissolved.Civilizations held together by a fragile wed of tactful phrasing, polite omissions, and benign lies, would sef-destruct….”

Boy and how, talk about chaos, could anything be more devastating to so many of us? Kreider had me laughing, nodding my head and saying ‘yup me too’. His cynicism is refreshing, his humor was a welcome escape from life, which as I age isn’t always a thing I can muster optimistic enthusiasm about! Who ‘sort of gets married’ to a girl just so they can accompany her on a circus train into Mexico? Tim does! Who falls in love with people who are unavailable, well who doesn’t? “I knew a number of people who had believed themselves, at various times, to be engaged to Annie.” I’m half in love with the women he’s had in his life myself, hilarious!

He had some ‘groupie action’, being a cartoonist may not be rock star level but hey, you never know, with one “Elektra Bold” or Zoey, we’re not sure, it wasn’t her real name either. It was his younger days and here he was the ‘normal one’. He needed to be ‘undomesticated’, by a woman extremely free in her sexuality. You’ll understand when you read his book! He talks about 9/11 and the bond we all had through blood lust, and the madness that followed. I laughed about his protesting, going with his friend who equally dislikes to protest. Not one for chanting “hey hey ho ho”, no matter how serious the subject, I was giggling like a schoolgirl. Not all of us can be wild-eyed revolutionaries, some of us just lack the OOMPH. Not everyone fancies landing in jail over their passionate feelings about the state of the world. Cartoons, there are always funny political cartoons that can be made!

He becomes a cat bachelor against his will, his longest relationship ever! Yes it’s actually funny reading about this bond he shares with his feline. Maybe you have to be a pet person? Against his will, don’t so many loves find us that way, animal and otherwise? Damn you, I wasn’t ready, I didn’t want this! You’re not my type! Worse when you are in love and keep it only in your own head, as Tim is guilty of. Or maybe it’s not love, what the hell do any of us know of love anyway?

Isn’t it beautiful to know humanity is sour, that the entire world is not composed of Pollyannaish types (oh dear, showing my age again)? We can’t all put a ‘positive spin’ on the miserable moments of life, and maybe we Americans are spoiled in being temporarily devastated by silly things but we own it! Don’t most of us take comfort in the fact we aren’t the only ones suffering? Funny how Tim’s searches on google, something so trivial, can let you know you aren’t the only one in the gutter looking up at those stars, maybe too lazy to stand up. Isn’t there beauty in realizing we are all just a hair away from falling apart? No? Searches on the internet beg to differ! As he says “Time will pass without mercy. We will die. It will suck.” But we can have fun and laugh at ourselves or at Tim in the meantime.

Maybe it’s all psychology, after all, he was once a test subject as an infant thanks to his mother. Maybe we’re all born to either cling or reject? Paired with our opposites, who knows? Whether he is smushing ants or dissecting his relationships, he rips open his brain and spills thoughts all over the reader. Always self-deprecating, honest to an embarrassing fault and too much like all of us, but no way will we admit it, Kreider shares his love-life and more. A talent to watch and not just one for the boys!

Publication Date: February 6 2018

Simon & Schuster
Profile Image for Michael Rhode.
Author 16 books4 followers
February 12, 2018
I liked the book quite a bit. I may be rating it slightly high because I went to a talk he gave on it. Mybe it's a 3.5. The essays are largely about women who have meant something to him, but whom he's been unable to commit permanently to. I'm not sure that Kreider and I would be friends in person, but his essays reveal a caring guy, who can still be a jerk, but is often capable of realizing that he is, in fact, being a jerk. And who among us hasn't been a jerk?

I strongly recommend his three cartoon collections too.

I must confess that I'm idly wondering who his former girlfriend the cartoonist is.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,179 reviews
February 19, 2019
"If you want to enjoy the rewards of being loved, you also have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known."

"We all die in exile."

"Maybe the moral is, nothing works."

"A man who is in a room with a cat—whatever else we might say about that man—is not alone."

"If I ever have a terminal illness, the way I'd prefer to learn about it is by dying."

"All the dread of a false accusation masks the fear of a just one."

"Some days self-awareness mostly seems like a source of embarrassment, enabling you to watch yourself fucking up with greater clarity."

"It is a joy to be hidden, but a disaster not to be found."

"The nice guys and the creepy guys are all the same guys."

"De gustibus non est disputandum."

Profile Image for Anita.
96 reviews3 followers
July 5, 2021
Another amazing set of essays by Tim Kreider. I hope he keeps them coming. This one centers on his complicated relationships with women - including girlfriends, his mother, his undergrad writing students, and his cat. Tim Kreider displays so much honesty in every essay, even when it doesn't make him look good, as in his romantic entanglements with women way too young for him, his inappropriate crushes on his unavailable female friends, and his fear of commitment. His writing is also frequently hilarious, and he really knows how to turn a phrase.
Profile Image for Adrianne Mathiowetz.
248 reviews219 followers
September 6, 2018
Occasionally long-winded but never self-congratulatory (a feat in memoir) -- this is probably the first book of essays I've read cover to cover in just a couple of days, consuming one after the other. I wish I'd read my own copy of this instead of borrowing it from the library: each essay has its sentence I would underline, its little nugget of hilarious/sad/hilarisad wisdom that would probably be of comfort during the next crisis.
Profile Image for Tyler.
186 reviews
January 29, 2021
I adore Kreider's other collection of essays, We Learn Nothing, but this one fell short for me. Each story ties back to a relationship in Kreider's life and this theme is limiting. Kreider's views on love and relationships wander between juvenile and reductive. There are moments of dark humor and raw honesty but it can't make up for a writer whose outlook on love I vehemently disagree with.
Profile Image for m..
302 reviews34 followers
July 11, 2022
remember when the internet (or at least my tiny slice of it) was going wild over "if we want the rewards of being loved we must submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known"? tim kreider wrote that. this entire collection was just as evocative as that line. so full of charm and humor and insights, even down to the footnotes! i'm going to get a copy for my male best friend, stat.
6 reviews3 followers
February 9, 2020
Reading this has been one of the more rewarding experiences of the last few years. Even when I felt it was meandering, the way it was all navigated had me itching for more. It sometimes felt like reading something I could have written in an alternate universe.
Profile Image for G.
871 reviews51 followers
April 29, 2020
Because I am also a romantic self-involved melancholic man who likes to charm and make excuses for myself, I loved this. It dances on the right side of ruefulness and humor, and is also movingly sad (though never depressing).
Profile Image for Hannah.
7 reviews
July 18, 2022
A couple true lols:

“As he was wheeled out of the office he was heard to moan: ‘Oh my God… this sucks… what the fuck?’”

“(Neitzsche is like the Hardy Boys for brooding intellectual guys in their twenties, as Ayn Rand is the Nancy Drew of certain brainy, ambitious college girls.)”
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