Borchardt Agency
Published by
Sarabande Books (2018-04-10)
Current material
2nd Pass Pages
Original language
Literary essays



by Arndt, Rachel

Harnessing the precision of a surgeon and a poet's eye for arresting detail, Rachel Z. Arndt plumbs the underside of contemporary American society. Beyond Measure is a fascinating exploration of the rituals, routines, metrics and expectations through which we attempt to quantify and ascribe value to our lives.

What does being habitually early or late say about one's character? How many sleep studies does it take to prove a case of narcolepsy? If the weather outside doesn't match the forecast, might it "just need to catch up"? With mordant humor and penetrating intellect, Arndt casts her gaze beyond event-driven narratives to the machinery underlying them: judo competitions measured in weigh-ins and wait times; the significance of the elliptical's stationary churn; the standardized height of kitchen countertops; the rote scripts of dating apps; the stupefying sameness of the daily commute. "How much can data tell us?" Arndt asks, challenging us to consider the simultaneous comfort and absurdity of our exhaustively quantified - yet never entirely quantifiable - lives.

Rachel Z. Arndt's writing has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Quartz, The Believer, and elsewhere. She received MFAs in nonfiction and poetry from the University of Iowa, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and nonfiction editor of The Iowa Review. After stints in Rhode Island and New York, she now lives in Chicago and works as a reporter at Modern Healthcare, covering healthcare technology.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

Available View on Rightsdesk


Rachel Z. Arndt's collection demonstrates beautifully the marvelous ability of the personal essay to carve out of the ordinary events of everyday life a piece of shaped experience.

Quote: Vivian Gornick

Arndt's debut provides close insight into one woman's personal struggles while never becoming overbearing or overly solemn.

Review: Publishers Weekly

In the grip of Rachel Z. Arndt's spellbindingly obsessive mind, nearly everything shines with measurability and poetry and disturbing familiarity. She studies bird dissections, sails through a lightning storm, explains the etiquette of scamming Bed Bath & Beyond, kicks ass at a judo tournament, ponders the cultural history of the heights of kitchen counters, and formulates a phenomenology of creeping on people at the gym. Riding the folds of Arndt's remarkable imagination, we come to realize that her obsession is in fact a cultural obsession, an American predicament, our most curious collective pastime.

Quote: John D'Agata, author of About a Mountain and A New History of the Essay

Of all the weights and measures used to gauge the "human metronome" of the body in time in this meticulous and arresting first collection - its lonely circadian rhythms, desolate states of listless fatigue, and all manner of existential hurry-up-and-wait - Arndt's elegant and patient syntax, calibrated to keep pace with her attentive interiority, is the most sensitive instrument of all.

Quote: Robyn Schiff

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