As Is: Unearthing Commonplace Glory is Krista Finch’s first book published through the publishing press she owns with her husband, Swerve Press. As Is is a memoir of finding places of glory in the everyday messiness of life. Finch sets out to see heaven on earth:
Life is noisy, dirty, dangerous–and that is with its best foot forward. But there is more than only chaos, commotion, and calamity. We catch glimpses of the glory when we look in the impossible and preposterous places.
I really wanted to like this book, but the alliteration and lists that have a nice lilt to them in the beginning get old quick. There are several chapters, or sketches (the Table of Contents is called Sketches in this book), that get overwhelmed with her lists. It’s almost like Finch wants to write poetry throughout the book, but then changes to prose. Each section of the book begins with a poem then is followed by short vignettes on different topics. Most of the sketches are just over a page long and skim the surface of the topic she’s talking about. The book is loosely structured, which makes it hard to follow as it’s not in chronological order and doesn’t have a strong narrative structure. Finch jumps around her life without giving a lot of surrounding detail or connecting narrative to help us transition from one sketch to the other. Although we see glimpses into Finch’s life, the reader doesn’t feel like you get to know her. For example in “This Lounge Chair Thing” she mentions three miscarriages and a cancer scare in another long list, and that’s it. She never elaborates on either the rest of the book. We don’t know what happened. It’s mentioned and then she goes on.
There are nice sections in the book where Finch gets away from lists and adjectives and gives a little more narrative and detail that make that story shine like this paragraph where she describes why we are “hesitant hopers”:
Because hope is an odd cat. That’s probably why we don’t entertain her very often. Everything around us tells us not to invite her in. Hospitals can’t heal, wars don’t end, bonds won’t mend. We’ve asked hope to come, and she has left us high and dry. Why would we summon that kind of company…? …Hope just doesn’t look like we think she will look. She changes her hair color and gets a new wardrobe just when we start to recognize her (p. 116).
I look forward to seeing how her writing develops, but I don’t recommend this book. It would be best for those who like to read in short spells. It might be an easier book to read slowly, taking your time. It’s not a good book to read straight through. If you’re interested in short blog-style chapters that are easy to read in five minutes here and there, you might enjoy this book. If you expect a memoir to have more narrative where you feel like you get to know the author, then this book isn’t for you.
I received a copy of this book from The Ooze Viral Bloggers agreeing to post a copy of the review on my website.