...a skilled and evocative contribution to a genre that has long frustrated definition by critics and practitioners alike ... Chew-Bose’s collection bristles with slow and tender inquisitiveness, carefully wrought anecdotes and character studies, devotion to detail, and nuanced structure in which form engages with content ... In Too Much and Not the Mood, language is playful and liberating, a tool with which to investigate thought and expression ... With a cinematographer’s eye, Chew-Bose stills time to detail and interpret minutiae, imagining the burnished interior states that might correspond ... As in the best essay collections the stories, scenes, insights, and observations are individual and specific; but they are also analogies for a certain kind of looking, spending time and attention, as well as bestowing care and devotion on the animate and the inanimate alike.
Across 14 playful and peripatetic essays that touch on everything from the pleasure of watching movies in the summertime to the alienation of being a lone adolescent brown girl in a throng of white girls, Chew-Bose shows us what such ambitious porousness might look like. Her strange, challenging, and sometimes frustrating prose is personal but only in the most attenuated sense ... The book converts miniaturization into an unexpected aesthetic opportunity, a lens that refracts one’s self in the most blissful ways possible. The result is a book that substitutes a giddy openness in place of the stark political polemics that characterize so many contemporary essays on gender and race...It’s not that this collection is apolitical—it’s just interested in the nuance of experience that many essays on race and gender so often forget to account for ... Her writing wants to retrain our attention on the various textures and pleasures that comprise lived experience ... This itinerancy makes Too Much a disorienting and challenging read. That disorientation doesn’t always feel worthwhile. Chew-Bose’s arabesque prose is sometimes lyrical to a fault.
Across all 14 essays, nearly each page contains at least one gemlike moment of visual-verbal synesthesia ... Chew-Bose is never not thoughtful, though the insights on offer are largely of the wayward-whimsical variety — a personal memory that kindles an observation, then meanders along before stumbling, albeit gracefully, onto the next ... Presumably, linguistic maximalism is meant to stand in for the momentum of a well-built argument or narrative arc. But unlike her heroes Agnès Varda or Wong Kar-wai, she hasn’t yet learned to make the idiosyncratic miasma of memory, feeling and observation sustainably cohere.