There’s drama in a McDonalds hamburger. Listen to a reading of the essay is “Good Bad” on Soundcloud.
In The Enjoy Agenda at Home and Abroad, Rick Bailey finds humor in a variety of subjects: mindfulness and his half-hearted attempt to lower his blood pressure, the prospect of an iSmell app and the scent of outer space (burnt steak, hot metal, welding fumes), the pros and cons of milk substitutes, going full chopstick in Shanghai, and the limits of his spoken Italian.
In these essays, life is sweet and sour. “A tall boy can swing both ways, dating tall and short girls, ” he writes, “unlike a not-tall boy, way down there on the left end of the bell curve, confronting the grim reality of standard deviations.” In the essay “GelatiAmo,” he celebrates the ease of finding the good stuff over there: “Gelato, to paraphrase James Joyce, is general all over Italy. When we hit a new town over there and feel the need, we ask 2-3 people where the best gelato is. Usually the response is immediate. There’s the smile, the widening eyes, the look of rapture.”
These essays range widely, offering pleasures, smiles, at times hearty laughs.
Comments on The Enjoy Agenda at Home and Abroad:
“In this startling new collection of mini-essays, Rick Bailey recreates for us what Virginia Woolf calls moments of being, those bright bursts of beauty, loss, communion, and bewilderment that constitute a life. Here we have everything from a boy’s first glimpse of the horror of an automobile accident to a grown man’s regret that he cannot carry the burden of the anvil he has inherited from his father, brief meditations not only on wine and ragu, but dumplings, dancing, death, gelato, toothaches, ER scares, and the profound mystery of why Europeans can eat pastries for breakfast and still remain thin. I defy you to read one of these deliciously addictive essays without gulping down the entire book.”–Eileen Pollack, author of A Perfect Life, published by Ecco/Harper Collins, and The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still A Boys’ Club.
“Rick Bailey’s essays overflow with warmth, humor, truth. In this new collection, a woven memoir, we travel with him to Italy, China, and around his home state of Michigan. Bailey invites us to delight with him in food and music, in family and friends, in his zest for life, with all its twists and turns. The Enjoy Agenda offers keen observations, nuggets of wisdom, stories of the heart. Quoting from one of his essays—”Life is short. Don’t forget to gelato.”—I add: Don’t forget to read Rick Bailey.”–Christine Rhein, Poet & Author of Wild Flight.
Full of food and music, longing and curiosity, The Enjoy Agenda is a collection of brief illuminations where each essay arrives like a good friend with a story to tell. With generosity and sincerity, Rick Bailey is a writer who wants to share the world with you, and his book is one of discoveries, small marvels and celebrations. Matthew Olzmann, author of Contradictions in Design.