Ode to Ross Gay and The Book of Delights

An ode to the boisterous, the long-winded

Delight is a petite essay, an essayette, with long, zigzagging, boisterous (by boisterous, I mean a four-year-old door-to-door caroller with a puffed chest and chocolate-smeared lips and a 120-decibel voice) sentences that could wrap themselves around the world, from Humptulips, Washington to Middelfart, Denmark, if only the page’s right margin stopped doing its job and let sentences run free, and by free what I mean is a continuous straight line, which, at first, might not sound very free, but freedom, at least the definition I’m unspooling here, is the act of doing what you’re not supposed to do—for nine-year-old me, freedom was ignoring bedtime and catching from my bedroom doorframe whatever audio I could catch of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire episode booming in the living room—and the right margin, I imagine, is a rigid job with strict procedures and a good union, and letting sentences run free, or should I say nonstop to Australia, or should I say breathless, would be a kind of freedom, though allowing such travels would also be in direct opposition of the right margin’s duty, and I, a mere scribbler, a mere ex-roofer who was so terrible at roofing that I took on $50,000 of student debt to learn how to scribble, do not want to infringe on anyone’s duties, do not want anyone, especially the right margin, to lose their dental benefits, but imagine for a jiffy your favourite sentence wrapping around the world, imagine for a jiffy (a jiffy is about 3 × 10−24 seconds) every roll of toilet paper Costco sells in a year wrapping around the world and then imagine it doing so another 1199 times because that is (1 + 1199 = 1200) how many times it could actually wrap around the world, and this imaginative exercise involving favourite sentences and galactic toilet paper and quantum physical timeframes is, just so you know, an attempt to show you what it feels like, at least for me, to read a long, zigzagging, boisterous sentence written by Ross Gay, which his book, The Book of Delights, is composed of, and while Ross Gay is, of course, bound by the prescriptions and directives of the right margin, he writes as if he is not, or, more precisely, he writes as if his notepad is not a notepad but a roll of endless, margin-less toilet paper, which is a kind of freedom, a definite delight, and I take pride in being an imitator of those who manufacture such delight because I, too, revel in the delightful, and I know I’m not Ross Gay, just a Ross Gay fan, just Spenser Smith, just a caroller with chocolate-smeared lips and a raw, happy throat.

Two essays from Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights:

“Sharing Love,” The Paris Review

“Loitering Is Delightful,” The Paris Review