"The hunger for a feeling of connection that informs most everything I’ve written flows from a common break in a common heart, one I share with everyone I’ve ever really known."—Note Book
Every single morning since early 2007, Princeton English professor Jeff Nunokawa has posted a brief essay in the Notes section of his Facebook page. Often just a few sentences but never more than a few paragraphs, these compelling literary and personal meditations have raised the Facebook post to an art form, gained thousands of loyal readers, and been featured in the New Yorker. In Note Book, Nunokawa has selected some 250 of the most powerful and memorable of these essays, many accompanied by the snapshots originally posted alongside them. The result is a new kind of literary work for the age of digital and social media, one that reimagines the essay’s efforts, at least since Montaigne, to understand our common condition by trying to understand ourselves.
Ranging widely, the essays often begin with a quotation from one of Nunokawa’s favorite writers—George Eliot, Henry James, Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. H. Auden, Robert Frost, or James Merrill, to name a few. At other times, Nunokawa is just as likely to be discussing Joni Mitchell or Spanish soccer striker Fernando Torres.
Confessional and moving, enlightening and entertaining, Note Book is ultimately a profound reflection on loss and loneliness—and on the compensations that might be found through writing, literature, and connecting to others through social media.
Jeff Nunokawa teaches English literature at Princeton University and lives in Princeton and New York.
"Part of what Nunokawa is after is a sense of how art and literature not just move but also transform us, by becoming a part of how we engage the world. In that sense, the essays here can be taken as close reads -- if close reading can be stripped clean of analysis, taken into an emotional realm. But even more, he is recording the slow, amorphous passage of experience, in which what we think and what we do, what we ponder and remember, make up in large measure who we are."–David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
"Reading the entries in Note Book is a warm, wistful experience, like sitting over coffee with a charming, well-read friend whose penchant for gentle melancholy only makes him better company."--Jennifer Howard, Times Literary Supplement
"Mr. Nunokawa cobbles a liturgy from the Western canon, and his notes resemble homilies in which he strives after secular consolations."--Jeremy Axelrod, Wall Street Journal
"[A] winning look at how people connect, or attempt to connect, in person and online."--Publishers Weekly
"Whitmanesque. . . . Looking to befriend the reader yet not exactly open a conversation, Nunokawa draws one in with these temptingly lyric essays while resisting the larger buffers of narrative or explicit chronological context. An engaging multimedia project offering even more food for thought when translated to the linearity of the printed page."--Kirkus
"The Facebook revolution has given rise to a new art form, the digital essay. At the forefront, Jeff Nunokawa and his Note Book (Princeton) will turn haters into lovers"--Vanity Fair
"A beautifully crafted book. . . . Nunokawa's take on [Facebook] . . . is like none I have seen."--Jacqueline Cutler, Newark Star Ledger
"These essays from a Hawaiian-born professor of literature, Jeff Nunokawa, have left me utterly charmed"--Nicholas Blincoe, Daily Telegraph
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Jeff Nunokawa: