How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky is one of the most stunning essay collections I’ve ever read. Watsky’s skill in crafting narratives from his experiences is absolutely insane. In “Tusk,” the gripping opening of the collection, he tells the story of the time he became an ivory smuggler (no big deal). “What Year Is It?” follows his own experiences with epilepsy and traces the stigma surrounding it back to the days when eugenics were openly practiced. “Good Hook!” describes his experience fishing in Alaska and the subsequent flight home, on which a middle-aged man attempts to cheat on his wife, and Watsky serves as a somewhat nosy bystander. The parallelism not only of the experiences, but also of the piece is astounding, relating the woman in question to a fisher person. (Same.) And just wait until you read “Concert Tickets.”
As a reader, you come away from this book feeling as though you’ve just been through a spiritual experience (or–at the very least–gained a new perspective). Like his music, the book has a resounding honesty, and How to Ruin Everything is 226 pages of wow.