Ariel Leve lives in both New York and London. She seems to be successful in her career. She is well-travelled. But she is also anti-social, a hypochondriac, and in my opinion not someone with whom I would want to spend a whole lot of time; at least that is how her essay collection, It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me, portrays her.
Loosely grouped into sixteen sections, Leve discusses topics ranging from doing nothing (“People with “nothing to do” have no options. People with “no plans” have the world as their oyster – they just haven’t decided yet what they’re going to do”) to trying new things (“Why would I try new things when I have more than enough trouble getting by with what I’ve got?”) to maintaining friendships. She is about my age, yet definitely curmudgeonly.
And I think that is where the problem lay (lied?) when I read this book. I could definitely relate to some of the things she spoke about, but I found the anti-social nature of most of the essays to be an overall downer. Which perhaps was the point of the book and its title?
The essays are all rather short (most less than two pages in length) so it is an easy book that can be picked up for short reading intervals. Perhaps read in this way it might be more enjoyable; for me, taking it all in at once was too much.
(Disclosure: copy of book received from the publisher, Harper Perennial)