Ross Gay, one of today’s most dynamic literary voices, spent a year writing daily essays about things that delighted him. With enthusiasm and thoughtfulness, the essays record the small joys that occurred in one tumultuous year, the small joys we often overlook in our busy lives.
He finds wonder in the mundane, celebrates beauty in the natural world, and takes a clear-eyed view of the complexities in his life, including living in America as a black man. The Book of Delights is an inspiration, a powerful reminder that we can, and should, stake out a space in our lives for delight.
“This collection will remind you how beautiful it is to be alive.” —Luis Alberto Urrea
“Ross Gay’s newest book adds layers to what it means to have delight and be delighted by the world.” —The Rumpus
“Ross Gay is a secular blessing, a possibility-expander; his work is a free box of realizable light.” —Pam Houston
Watch Ross Gay read a couple of his "essayettes" from The Book of Delights. His joy and enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and, yes, delight jump off the page and the screen.
Preview: “The Marfa Lights”
My buddy Pat and I went to shoot around at the courts here in Marfa today. We were warming up, shooting twelve-footers or doing slow spin moves and crossovers, when a young guy from the other side of the court (where the rim had a net) swaggered toward us, holding a ball on his hip, the light gleaming in his earrings, and challenged us to a two-on-two, pointing his thumb to himself and back to his buddy draining threes from the corner. We agreed, and went on to kick the shit out of them, 21-0. That is a horrible figure of speech, and I leave it in only to expose the violence we easily speak. We got more baskets than they did. That they were only twelve years old is irrelevant, given as this was their home court, and they even had a crowd watching, another little girl who, when one of the kids shouted to the gods, "They're kicking our butts!" said, "I hope so. They're grown men."
Ross Gay is the author of three books of poetry, including Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Catalog was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, the Ohioana Book Award, the Balcones Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call It Ballin’ and founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a nonprofit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Gay has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.
Books and Music That Delight Ross
Books That Delight (or, that I have loved, in the last few months):
“A Love Bizarre” by Sheila E.: My brother put this on in his car just the other day after I (probably) made a (displeased) face about his yacht rock playlist—and he made a 180 degree turn to this, amen.
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