I Wrote This Book Because I Love You

"Note to Mom: do not read," warns cartoonist-cum-essayist Tim Kreider (We Learn Nothing) of several essays in I Wrote This Book Because I Love You, in which Kreider probes his love life for material.

Among other recollections, Kreider writes about dating both a sex worker and a pastor--the former being the first story he forbids his mother to read. While Kreider ostensibly offers reflections on lessons learned, he also paints a self-portrait of a man searching for meaning in romance but finding it more often in literature or humor. He opens with running off to Mexico with the circus, for a woman. Panic attacks (hers) and digestive issues (his) ensue. The stage is set for Kreider to deliver wacky stories throughout, but much of the collection's strength comes from wry ruminations on his non-romantic relationships, like the one between him and his agent (who once accidentally cc'ed him on an e-mail in which she called him an "Oof"), and his observations about his relationship with his cat of 19 years: "Under common law, this cat is my wife." As for life itself? He is frank: "Time will pass without mercy. We will die. It will suck."

Kreider's observations cut deep, sharply delivered in the midst of what he might sometimes call "mush." It's no surprise that David Foster Wallace declared, "Kreider rules," or that Kreider counts Richard Russo and Judd Apatow as fans. His precision and candor coexist like a just-sharpened razor slicing into soft fruit, sweet, lovely, messy and sustaining. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer

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