Essay collections are having a bit of moment right now, and Tonight I’m Someone Else is no exception. I dipped in and out of Hodson’s collection over the course of two months, carrying it around with me everywhere, wanting to absorb every word. More often than not, I hate finishing books, mostly for the pressure to lose myself in a new book afterwards, so I prolonged finishing Tonight I’m Someone Else simply because I enjoyed it so immensely and I didn’t want to say goodbye. Nonfiction, specifically essays, can feel so personal, and Chelsea Hodson succeeds in delivering an emotional, thought-provoking collection full of intriguing anecdotes as well as insightful social commentary.
From the back cover:
From graffiti gangs and Grand Theft Auto to sugar daddies, Schopenhauer, and a deadly game of Russian roulette, in these essays, Chelsea Hodson probes her own desires to examine where the physical and the proprietary collide. She asks what our privacy, our intimacy, and our own bodies are worth in the increasingly digital world of liking, linking, and sharing.
Starting with her own work experience, which ranges from the mundane to the bizarre- including fashion modeling and working on a NASA Mars mission- Hodson expands outward, looking at the ways in which the human will submits, whether in the marketplace or in a relationship. Both tender and jarring, this collection is relevant to anyone who’s ever searched for what the self is worth.
Hodson’s accumulation within each piece is purposeful, and her prose vivid, clear, and sometimes even shocking as she explores the wonderful and strange forms of desire. This is a fresh, poetic debut from an exciting, emerging voice that asks, “How much can a body endure?” And the resounding answer: “Almost everything.”
“For our high-school graduation party, our school hired a hypnotist. My best friend volunteered herself, went onstage, and fell asleep, and then he had her dancing and singing Backstreet Boys songs. When she woke up again, she walked back to her seat, and I tried to tell her what she’d done while she was out, but she said she was awake the whole time. It was easier to just do what he wanted me to do, she said, and I knew what she meant.”
-Chelsea Hodson, “The End of Longing,” Tonight I’m Someone Else
It’s difficult to describe Tonight I’m Someone Else. Essentially, it’s about finding yourself, about who you are versus who you want to be, and about being unhappy with your life, but it’s also about young love and relationships and making tough decisions. The collection, as a whole, covers a wide variety of topics and themes, but the essays still feel very connected with one another. While reading, I almost felt like I was directly inside Hodson’s head; she writes very formally, and Tonight I’m Someone Else is very conscious of its language and structure, and yet often times it reads like a diary (albeit that of a very talented writer).
All in all, Tonight I’m Someone Else was an enthralling read, and though it didn’t blow me away, it rekindled my love for nonfiction and essay collections. I’ll be waiting patiently for Hodson’s next release.
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