Book Review: I’m Not Too Bad, Thanks by Chris Hughes

I was fortunate to connect with Chris over on Twitter, somewhere in the depths of an #indieauthor thread. The premise behind his debut poetry collection, I’m Not Too Bad, Thanks, intrigued me: Chris reflects that “When someone asks how you are, whether you are on top of the world or feeling low, what’s the standard response? “I’m not too bad, thanks!”” and explains that this common social interaction was the inspiration for his work. I was drawn to the honesty in that reflection – I, like Chris and many others, have often found myself pretending to be fine when, in fact, I’m struggling. The promise of finding other moments of connection compelled me to download the collection, which I sat and read in one go.

I’m Not Too Bad, Thanks is stunning in its vulnerability. In an age where toxic masculinity is rife, when emotional honesty is so often scorned and so many men are made to believe that to feel anything other than ‘strength’ is to be less of a man, this collection speaks to true strength in the face of adversity. It beautifully reflects a masculinity that is allowed to breathe and allowed to feel and allowed to be fully human. Touching on everything from bullying and mental health to sex and the divine, this short collection honestly captures the highs and lows of life in simple yet eloquent language.

Chris writes with relatable and accessible language which gets to the heart of the human experience. Using short, free-verse he has created a down-to-earth collection which delves into the internal experiences that hide behind the common platitude from which the book takes its name. Sensitively portrayed moments of grief, fear, desire, and doubt are laid bare, holding up a mirror to all the difficulties and joys that just trying to be a person in the world presents.

Powerful and relatable and highly recommended. You can download a copy here and check out some more of Chris’s work over on his blog.

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