Tonight I'm Someone Else

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Review available at Book Riot, "20 Great 2018 Essay Collections": https://bookriot.com/2018/10/25/great-2018-essay-collections/
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Hobson worked as a model and writes with a laborer’s ambivalence about the body, the chill of a paycheck earned “pretending to read J.D. Salinger.” But bodies are at odd risk in this book, pummeled and bloodied. I wish I’d tallied the bruises in this book. “Come on. Don’t be a pussy. Hit me in the face,” she goads a boy in Brooklyn. Boys she loves in Tuscon, “swollen and victorious”, remain unnamed. Their jumble of diminutives, by geography, are another kind of slap. But the book’s largest violence occurs around the shooting of Hobson’s congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords:

“I don’t remember how I found out Gabrielle Giffords had been shot, but I was in Los Angeles by then, three years after we’d met. […] I knew that Giffords wasn’t fake like other politicians – I knew that because I’d touched her hand once, and I believed what she’d said that night if only I could remember it. Girls like me, we get to choose when and where to look […] and when to turn away.”

Hobson and Giffords met, she relates, in a photo op at the end of a college job. Giffords’ speech, and the few words they shared in private are forgotten: “If only I could remember it,” says Hobson. But her memory, she tells us, turns away. Isn’t that its own assault? To be a writer who wants to narrate, but won’t marshal the remembering for us?
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There were snippets where I would be wowed and would say out loud, “dang, I felt that.” However, as I kept on reading that’s all there was...just snippets, clever one-liners of profound emotion but I wanted more than that. I wanted to go farther deep into that hurt and longing and explore it and dissect it.
Yet by no means did I not like this book, I was still able to connect to it, and it did make me eager to read whatever Hodson writes next.
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Thank you net galley for the book however, I couldn't finish even half of it, even after several tries.  It seemed pointless and disconnected.  The author just rambles on about segments of her life, seemingly with the purpose of sharing personal revelations and insights but lost my interest as the chapters progressed.   When it started to get too painful to muster through, I just pronounced it dead.
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I loved this collection so, so much.  Chelsea Hodson doesn't speak at you or write telling you how we should be but instead writes how we are, faults included. Hodson's vulnerability shines through and her intensity and stripped prose breathe honesty. Highly recommend.
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Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this title.

Chelsea Hodson's long-anticipated essay collection 'Tonight I'm Someone Else' lives up to the hype she generated by her chapbook 'Pity the Animal.' The collection engages similar themes: relationship, success, New York, sex, mistakes, beauty, commerce, wealth and poverty, America, crime, love, growing up, and many other topics that have become a staple of the contemporary personal essay. Hodson begins many essays with the kind of piercing, brilliant prose that proves envy in many writers; the control she has of her ideas as they set the parameters for an essay is remarkable. 

In some sense the essays aren't "about" anything; a lover named "Cody," her time in school Arizona, her time working in retail and as a model. But there's more to it than that. Granted, sometimes the essay collection felt repetitive but it wasn't a cloying repetitiveness, rather the result of the vicissitudes of publishing in 2018: write a bunch of content and finally secure a book deal. One could argue that the range of this collection is limited. While this reviewer recognizes the merit in this critique, it is best understood as an invitation for more. The most under-utilized aspect of the collection is the author's beauty. Her model past is significant and she is clearly aware of the power of her own beauty in her varied relationships. This may have been due to fears of vanity (and certainly some readers would have found self-reflection about the author's beauty to be off-putting). Hodson's beauty doesn't appear to be constitutive of her identity; she is aware of how it has shaped her life but it isn't who she is, and her treatment of her own insecurity in relationships since early adolescence mitigates claims of vanity. Additionally, some of the essays sort of peter out rather than ending on a strong note. 

Had this reviewer read the book in manuscript, the reviewer would have recommended greater theorizing about desire. It is a central theme for the collection but it is never treated systematically.

Overall, this is a significant contribution to the contemporary personal essay. It was emotionally engaging but not overly sad. May Hodson's work continue to flow for all of our benefit.
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I really enjoyed reading Chelsea Hodson's book. I was really excited to get a head start before it hit the stores especially after reading her chapbook, Pity the Animal. I admire her way of telling the harder truths to the situations she found herself in. I can't wait to recommend this book to everyone! It's a collection of essays that I feel will connect with people especially when it comes to searching for an identity. This is surely just the beginning for Hodson and as a fan, I can't wait for there to be more books after this success!
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This essay is lyrically and poetically written, leaning more towards prose than traditional essay. Depending on the reader and what they are wanting to read, this information will likely lead to whether it is enjoyed or not.
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