Notes to Self
by Emilie Pine
Reviewed by: Ellie Rowsell
At times, whilst reading Emilie Pine’s ‘Notes to Self’, I felt a bit like I was rudely perusing a mate’s diary. I wondered why she had chosen to write and publish these extremely personal essays and then I thought back to a quote from Joan Didion’s ‘On Keeping a Notebook’ where she questions her own need to write things down. To ’remember what it is to be me: that is always the point.’ I recall reading this quote and feeling less embarrassed about my own desire to always write things down. Perhaps I wasn’t the self-absorbed person I had at times berated myself for being but rather writing was integral in keeping track of myself, in understanding myself, in remembering what it was to be me and did I not publish my own personal essays only in song form? So my question then was not why had Emilie written or published these essays but rather why was I reading them? I enjoy reading memoirs and autobiographies but these are mainly of people I already had an interest in. I’m also a fan of personal essays or the few I have read anyway but perhaps what sets them apart from actually just reading a friend’s diary is humour of which ‘Notes to Self’ has little if any at all. It’s a difficult thing to be an artist who has their work criticised all the time and know the pain thereof, to then do so to someone else. So I will end on a positive note. Just like a good chat, or an informative article, Emilie Pine’s ‘Notes to Self’ is healing in many ways. When I came across an experience I could relate to and she offered advice, I found comfort. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” Pine is a good writer, I found her essays easy to read and was able to step in to her shoes and truly imagine what it might be like to be her, but just like good chats or good articles they are to be dipped in an out of instead of consumed all in one go.
‘Though it is grotesque to care about food while your father lies dying, I order truffle pasta and it is delicious”