Can You Tolerate This?
'Beautiful, unusual and memorable ... I love this book' MAGGIE NELSON, author of THE ARGONAUTS
In Can You Tolerate This? - the title comes from the question chiropractors ask to test a patient's pain threshold - Ashleigh Young ushers us into her early years in the faraway yet familiar landscape of New Zealand: fantasising about Paul McCartney, cheering on her older brother's fledging music career, and yearning for a larger and more creative life.
As Young's perspective expands, a series of historical portraits - a boy with a rare skeletal disease, a French postman who built a stone fortress by hand, a generation of Japanese shut-ins - strike unexpected personal harmonies, as an unselfconscious childhood gives way to painful shyness in adolescence. As we watch Young fall in and out of love, undertake intense physical exercise that masks something deeper, and gradually find herself through her writing, a highly particular psyche comes into view: curious, tender and exacting in her observations of herself and the world around her. How to bear each moment of experience: the inconsequential as much as the shattering?
In this spirited and singular collection of essays, Ashleigh Young attempts to find some measure of clarity amidst the uncertainty, exploring the uneasy tensions - between safety and risk, love and solitude, the catharsis of grief and the ecstasy of creation - that define our lives.
Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction
Winner of Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2017 - General Non Fiction.
2017 Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction.
'This is a brave, sometimes confronting, always intriguing, often compelling and distinctly unusual book. The essays are consistently entertaining in a way that is rare in literary nonfiction of any kind. The voice is one which readers will fall in love with.' -Martin Edmond
'Some of Ashleigh Young's personal essays feel to me like beautifully told short stories - they just happen to be true, or true-ish.' -Bill Manhire