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All Things Are Too Small

ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349016214

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A spiky, funny and intellectually dazzling response to modern culture – from BDSM to mindfulness to Sally Rooney

‘Bracing and brilliant … scintillating writing of breadth and power’ Kate Kellaway, Observer

‘A radical and important book’ James Wood, author of Serious Noticing

‘Seriously precise … and very funny’ Telegraph

In All Things Are Too Small, virtuoso young critic and philosopher Becca Rothfeld turns her clear gaze to a series of interconnected cultural and political questions – about aesthetics, taste, literature, equality, power and sexuality. In a healthy culture, she argues, economic security allows for wild extremes of aesthetic experimentation, yet in our society we’ve got it flipped. The gap between rich and poor yawns hideously wide, while we compensate with misguided attempts to effect equality in love and art, where it does not belong.

Our culture’s embrace of minimalism has left our souls impoverished: decluttering has reduced our living spaces to empty non-places; the mindfulness trend has emptied our minds of the thoughts that make us who we are; the regularization of sex has drained it of unpredictability and therefore true eroticism; and our quest for balance has yielded fictions whose protagonists aspire to excise their appetites.

As intellectually illuminating as it is gloriously carnal and earthy, All Things Are Too Small is a much needed tonic in a world of oppressive sterility and limitation, and a soul cry for derangement, imbalance, obsession, ravishment and disorder.


This is a radical and important book. Along with the brilliance of the prose and the range of consideration, there is the steady coherence of Becca Rothfeld's argument: in these essays, she stages passionate duels between egalitarianism and distinction, abstinence and appetite, control and disproportion, and wins the battle, beautifully and eloquently, for the side of expansiveness and mess and desire. It's a thrilling struggle, thrillingly prosecuted
James Wood, author of Serious Noticing: Selected Essays
Brims over with opulent sentences that are an indulgence in their own right
AnOther Magazine
Becca Rothfeld expresses her unmatched passion for life in a fearless, vivid criticism of all our attempts to dumb it down. Her pleasure in thinking is so infectious, her appetite so generous, that she puts to shame those cynical ethics which masquerade as rigour. This book shows us that interrogation is a brilliant form of gusto.
Lillian Fishman, author of Acts of Service
In this brilliant debut, Becca Rothfeld dismantles our assumptions about politics and culture, urging us to embrace restorative excess in place of a meagre (and mistaken, in her view) puritanical asceticism. All Things Are too Small is a riveting book from one of our subtlest critics
Meghan O'Rourke, author of The Invisible Kingdom
Becca Rothfeld has an unsparing wit, a crystalline style, and a berserk appetite; she is not only one of America's most invariably interesting young cultural critics, but among our most generous and profound perverts. All Things Are Too Small is both a tribute to surplus and a seigneurial example of it - each essay here overspills its banks into the next, and the book sums to a rich, dazzling, and nonetheless precise entertainment
Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction
Rothfeld is unexpected, intelligent, engaging - and clearly delights in her task ... She is a precise, dynamic critic and her personal writing is vivid and insightful
New Statesman
Bracing and brilliant ... scintillating writing of breadth and power
Kate Kellaway, Observer
Rothfeld is both a seriously precise writer and a very funny one ... All Things Are Too Small vibrates with good phrases and perspicacious analysis
These essays spring from a philosopher's voracious, brilliantly synthesizing mind, and from a poet's love for language that leans always toward rapture
Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness
It seemed at one time that the legendary New York intellectuals and the luminaries of Partisan Review were definitively matchless and could have no successors or replicas. Becca Rothfeld alone is refutation: she not only equals their prowess, she ventures beyond their boundaries into queries never before dared or dreamed. There is no aspect of contemporary civilization or literary engagement that eludes her eye and her voice - nor could Lionel Trilling have predicted so elastic a body of insights
Cynthia Ozick, author of Antiquities
Becca Rothfeld, one of our finest critics, writes with the boldly sensuous lyricism of DH Lawrence and the pugnacious brilliance of Irving Howe. In All Things Are Too Small ideas sing, jostle, sweat and brawl. In no other writer is the life of the mind such a raucous, exhilarating joy
Phil Klay, author of Redeployment