November 2022 Indie Next List
“The Book of Delights author returns with a new essay collection — a meditation on the ways ordinary life, and particularly a life of community and compassion, can spark joy. The writing is free-flowing and spontaneous — just as joy can be.”
— Barbara de WIlde, Frenchtown Bookshop, Frenchtown, NJ
An intimate and electrifying new book of essays on joy by the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Delights. Ross Gay has made delight and joy his signature subject, and in Inciting Joy he expands on his ongoing study. For Gay, the knowledge of our demise is always a part of our joy, and that is the subtext of many of these essays--these two sides of our existence, and the way we come together, the way it's necessary to come together, to address this paradox.
He writes about his father's illness, which is also about the joy of family and how death can bring us closer, and about having asthma as a kid (not fun) but how his body is also a source of joy (very fun). In an essay about losing his phone, Gay has to get to the airport in his rental car without GPS--horrors --and must stop multiple times to ask for directions, which gives him the opportunity to connect with a lot of interesting folks. His essay about playing football in college and coming to hate it, becomes a meditation on masculinity and the brutally competitive aspect of team sports. But sports--such as Gay's beloved freewheeling basketball pick-up games--are also beautiful and meaningful. A piece on skateboarding becomes a celebration of the joys of transgressing together with friends. There are essays on the responses Gay receives as a Black man talking about joy (shouldn't he be focusing on fixing what's wrong?), the rewards of teaching and, of course, always, the natural world, which for Gay is a never ending source of joy.
This brilliant collection of essays reminds us that we are all connected, to each other and to the world at large.