All Things Are Too Small: Essays in Praise of Excess (Hardcover)

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Normally I am scrambling in December to pick my book of the year, with All Things Are Too Small : Essays in Praise of Excess I think I have already found my 2024 choice. Becca Rothfeld is not interested sparing feelings or encouraging the dull tyranny of good taste.  Her concerns are wider, grander, and less fashionable, fighting against the perpetual  flattening and hollowing of modern life in the conjoined names of minimalism, mindfulness, and elitism.  This book is a klaxon for your mind.  

— From Lynda’s Picks


A glorious call to throw off restraint and balance in favor of excess, abandon, and disproportion, in essays ranging from such topics as mindfulness, decluttering, David Cronenberg, and consent.

In her debut essay collection, “brilliant and stylish” (The Washington Post) critic Becca Rothfeld takes on one of the most sacred cows of our time: the demand that we apply the virtues of equality and democracy to culture and aesthetics. The result is a culture that is flattened and sanitized, purged of ugliness, excess, and provocation.

Our embrace of minimalism has left us spiritually impoverished. We see it in our homes, where we bring in Marie Kondo to rid them of their idiosyncrasies and darknesses. We take up mindfulness to do the same thing to our heads, emptying them of the musings, thoughts, and obsessions that make us who we are. In the bedroom, a new wave of puritanism has drained sex of its unpredictability and therefore true eroticism. In our fictions, the quest for balance has given us protagonists who aspire only to excise their appetites. We have flipped our values, Rothfeld argues: while the gap between rich and poor yawns hideously wide, we strive to compensate with egalitarianism in art, erotics, and taste, where it does not belong and where it quashes wild experiments and exuberance.

Lush, provocative, and bitingly funny, All Things Are Too Small is a subversive soul cry to restore imbalance, obsession, gluttony, and ravishment to all domains of our lives.

About the Author

Becca Rothfeld is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Nona Balakian Prize for Criticism and the Robert B. Silvers Prize for Literary Criticism. She is the non-fiction book critic for the Washington Post, an editor at The Point, a contributing editor at the Boston Review, and a PhD candidate (on long hiatus) at Harvard. She has written for The New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, The Yale Review, the Baffler, and more. She lives with her two dogs and husband in Washington, DC.

Praise For…

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2024 by Lit Hub

"Bracing and brilliant . . . The iconoclastic US author’s intellectually poised critique of minimalism boasts scintillating writing of breadth and power. . . . Rothfeld writes where devils fear to tread—about sex, beauty and desire and about consumption and consummation. . . . Becca Rothfeld is a dynamo."
The Guardian

"All Things Are Too Small . . . is splendidly immodest in its neo-Romantic agenda—to tear down minimalism and puritanism in its many current varieties . . . Rothfeld makes her strongest case in her essays’ very form, a carnival of high-low allusion and analysis . . . [an] exhilarating ride."
The New York Times

"Rothfeld has a knack for aphorism ('There is nothing more foreign to justice than love'), and it’s an absolute pleasure to watch her idiosyncratic arguments unfold. This is a triumph."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The writing is crisp, reflecting a curious mind and a yearning body."

"This is a radical and important book. Along with the brilliance of the prose and the range of consideration, there is the steady coherence of Becca Rothfeld's argument: in these essays, she stages passionate duels between egalitarianism and distinction, abstinence and appetite, control and disproportion, and wins the battle, beautifully and eloquently, for the side of expansiveness and mess and desire. It's a thrilling struggle, thrillingly prosecuted."
James Wood, author of Serious Noticing: Selected Essays

"In this brilliant debut, Becca Rothfeld dismantles our assumptions about politics and culture, urging us to embrace restorative excess in place of a meagre (and mistaken, in her view) puritanical asceticism. All Things Are Too Small is a riveting book from one of our subtlest critics."
Meghan O'Rourke, author of The Invisible Kingdom

"Becca Rothfeld, one of our finest critics, writes with the boldly sensuous lyricism of DH Lawrence and the pugnacious brilliance of Irving Howe. In All Things Are Too Small ideas sing, jostle, sweat and brawl. In no other writer is the life of the mind such a raucous, exhilarating joy."
—Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment and Uncertain Ground

"It seemed at one time that the legendary New York intellectuals and the luminaries of Partisan Review were definitively matchless and could have no successors or replicas. Becca Rothfeld alone is refutation: she not only equals their prowess, she ventures beyond their boundaries into queries never before dared or dreamed. There is no aspect of contemporary civilization or literary engagement that eludes her eye and her voice—nor could Lionel Trilling have predicted so elastic a body of insights."
—Cynthia Ozick, NBCC- and PEN-award winning author of (most recently) Antiquities

"These essays spring from a philosopher's voracious, brilliantly synthesizing mind, and from a poet's love for language that leans always toward rapture."
—Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness

"Becca Rothfeld has an unsparing wit, a crystalline style, and a berserk appetite; she is not only one of America's most invariably interesting young cultural critics, but among our most generous and profound perverts. All Things Are Too Small is both a tribute to surplus and a seigneurial example of it—each essay here overspills its banks into the next, and the book sums to a rich, dazzling, and nonetheless precise entertainment."
—Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250849915
ISBN-10: 1250849918
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English