Becca Rothfeld: All Things Are Too Small

Wednesday, April 10, 2024 - 6:30pm

Literati is thrilled to welcome Becca Rothfeld in celebration of her debut essay collection All Things Are Too Small. She'll be joined in conversation by local author and U of M lecturer Phil Christman. 

All Things Are Too Small

About The Book: A glorious call to throw off restraint and balance in favor of excess, abandon, and disproportion, in essays ranging from such topics as mindfulness, decluttering, David Cronenberg, and consent.

In her debut essay collection, “brilliant and stylish” (The Washington Post) critic Becca Rothfeld takes on one of the most sacred cows of our time: the demand that we apply the virtues of equality and democracy to culture and aesthetics. The result is a culture that is flattened and sanitized, purged of ugliness, excess, and provocation.

Our embrace of minimalism has left us spiritually impoverished. We see it in our homes, where we bring in Marie Kondo to rid them of their idiosyncrasies and darknesses. We take up mindfulness to do the same thing to our heads, emptying them of the musings, thoughts, and obsessions that make us who we are. In the bedroom, a new wave of puritanism has drained sex of its unpredictability and therefore true eroticism. In our fictions, the quest for balance has given us protagonists who aspire only to excise their appetites. We have flipped our values, Rothfeld argues: while the gap between rich and poor yawns hideously wide, we strive to compensate with egalitarianism in art, erotics, and taste, where it does not belong and where it quashes wild experiments and exuberance.

Lush, provocative, and bitingly funny, All Things Are Too Small is a subversive soul cry to restore imbalance, obsession, gluttony, and ravishment to all domains of our lives.

Becca Rothfeld has received the National Book Critics Circle Nona Balakian Prize for Criticism as well as the Robert B. Silvers Prize for Literary Criticism. She is the non-fiction book critic for the Washington Post, and editor at The Point, as well as a PhD candidate (on long hiatus) in philosophy at Harvard, an essayist, critic, editor, and philosopher. She has written for The New York Review of Books, the New Yorker the Atlantic, the New York Times Book ReviewBookforumArt in America, and the Baffler. She lives with her two dogs and husband in Washington, DC.

A former substitute teacher, shelter worker, and home health aide, Phil Christman currently lectures in the English department at University of Michigan. His work has appeared in The Hedgehog ReviewCommonwealThe Christian CenturyThe Outline, and other places. He holds an MFA from the University of South Carolina-Columbia. He is the editor of the Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing, a journal sponsored by the University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project. He lives in Ann Arbor, MI.

Event address: 
124 E. Washington
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
All Things Are Too Small: Essays in Praise of Excess By Becca Rothfeld Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250849915
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Metropolitan Books - April 2nd, 2024

How to Be Normal: Essays By Phil Christman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781953368294
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Belt Publishing - March 15th, 2022