Guest Post by Catherine Hayes
Where Was I Again, Olivia Muenz’s debut nonfiction chapbook from Essay Press, presents readers a glimpse into the mind of a neurodivergent reader and uses the power of language to emphasize how “we are in this together” by inviting all types of readers into her mindset and personal struggles. Muenz’s work reads like one is living inside the fragmented and constantly shifting mindset of a human. Her writing style consistently shifts between fragments, short paragraphs, and pages dedicated to a single sentence. Drifting like a “dusty balloon” she captures the truth of processing life as small moments that continue to live with us. “I am a big memory box,” Muenz proclaims, a statement that all readers can relate to yet one that distinctly reflects the author’s neurodivergent experience, the truth of her personal journey. She manages to reach her audience without compromising her own narrative. Muenz is not looking for her reader to sympathize with her or pity her, and she makes it clear that if her readers do not enjoy her narrative or don’t agree with what she says, they don’t have to stay. “I’m giving you an out,” she writes. “Well if you don’t want to take it. That’s not on me.” Her unapologetic attitude and conviction in her narrative are an admirable display of strength, especially in the face of talking about being in such a vulnerable state. Muenz expertly shows the ability of language to articulate the difficulties of reconciling body and mind, and the power of the written word to unite people in an understanding of the basic habits that all humans experience, no matter their background.
Where Was I Again by Olivia Muenz. Essay Press, May 2022.
Reviewer bio: Catherine Hayes is a graduate student in English at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts and resides in the Boston area. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Blood & Thunder: Musings of the Art of Medicine, Atticus Review, NewPages, and an anthology with Wising up Press. She can be found on Twitter @Catheri91642131