Desire - Jessie Cole - Keeping Up With The Penguins

Jessie Cole’s new memoir, Desire, is told through a series of vignettes. In the tradition of Maggie Nelson, Cole describes her lived experience of having a body and reckoning with the desires that threaten to tear it in two – even when, especially when, the world around us is falling apart. The wonderful team at Text Publishing were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

A glance at the blurb might have you think that Desire is simply the story of a love affair with an older man, but that’s not what this is. The intensity of Cole’s descriptions – of both the internal and external world – will take your breath away.

Despite – or perhaps because of – this intensity, Desire flows quickly. The vignettes aren’t strictly chronological, but they do form a rough timeline, and they knit together thematically. They read so smoothly, you’ll lose track of time.

Be aware of the trigger warnings, though, for suicide, illness, natural disasters and (most heartbreaking for me) the deaths of beloved pets.

Desire is a poignant and potent read that will have you pensive for days after you turn the last page.