...a stunning essay collection ... Her lyrical perspectives on quotidian moments had a universal quality that made me feel like I’d be right at home in the Antipodes ... wry, confessional, understated and often hilarious. Each piece lifts you up and deposits you in a place you never expected to find yourself. They startle with their immediacy and candor; they offer comfort even as they ask you to see things anew ... Young is a sharp observer who revels in her sense of the absurd and uses precise language and striking images ... The story is quiet in ways that catch you off guard, communicating a series of simple, everyday moments that, as Young shows them to us, shimmer with unexpected light ... Young, like the best essayists, writes with humorous self-regard about her own lived small moments, which reveal as much about us as they do about her. The intimacy of her stories creates a connection, making even a foreign place feel like home.
When poets turn to prose, images spark off the page and incantatory rhythms thrum in the minds of readers ... The feel of the reins is different: A taut power surges through the lines. Enter New Zealander Ashleigh Young, whose new collection of essays, Can You Tolerate This? is an edgy, vibrant portrait of electricity in language and the body in crisis ... Young infuses a quirky energy into her surreal moments ... These essays are interior, keenly felt, occasionally shocking, sprinkled with enigmatic bits of history ... Can You Tolerate This? adds up to a memoir prismed into multiple perspectives, drifting restlessly from first-person confessions to second-person meditations to third-person dramas ... In exacting sentences she probes the body’s mysteries ... These essays were reading me. She sees to the marrow of our humanity with a kind of MRI vision ... Can You Tolerate This? is an assured debut from a prodigiously talented, empathic writer whose prose shines as brightly as her poetry.
...probing, if sometimes pretentious ... Refreshingly, she acknowledges that her own coming-of-age was far from unique, and the best selections are those in which Young takes some critical distance from herself. Her voice is more confident and her sentences more pointed in these pieces ... Young’s autobiographical essays can still fall into the trap of faux-profound navel-gazing ... Young seems to learn the most about herself, and find the most to teach her readers, when she can immerse herself in a state that isn’t her own.