Sunday, January 30, 2022

Wow, No Thank You.: Essays by Samantha Irby


This is a tough book to rate because parts of it were 4- and 5-star worthy and parts of it were so boring that I decided to skim. This is the third Irby "book" I've read so far (yes I'm counting that short New Years essay she wrote and published on Kindle), and unlike a lot of the nay-sayers on Amazon, I actually really like her ribald, in-your-face sense of humor, especially about bodily functions. She is very open about her Crohn's and I think that is super important. Doctors actually thought me and my family had an IBS-like disease for a while but it turns out we had a super serious corn sensitivity, so honestly, I GET IT. Maybe if more people talked about it, I would have saved myself years of-- ahem-- intestinal strife.

I also love how she writes about all sorts of other "you can't say that on television!"-type topics, like the natural stuff that comes with aging, what it's like being plus-size (and not giving a hoot about it!), a total unapologetic recount of some of her relationships with men and women (including her wife) as a bisexual woman. And stuff about blended families and the difficulties that come with that.

I think the strongest portions of the book were where she writes about anxiety and depression and also her own history and successes and failures. She has a very chatty, readable narrative that really reminded me of Lindy West (so I was not at all surprised to find out they are apparently friends). Her dating advice section was HILARIOUS (and I would probably read an entire book just about that). I also liked the chapter about mixed tapes and some of her favorite 90s/00s songs and their importance to her. Less strong were the passages that kind of read like she'd run out of ideas, like the list of things that are better than sex, the "hello, 911?" section where it's just a list of anxiety triggers, and the section on home improvement. The only thing more boring than house work is reading about house work.

The ending kind of picked up again with her ultimate fangirl moment of meeting Janeane Garofolo and how that ended up resulting in Abbi Jacobson from Broad City reaching out to her (!!!), or how Lindy West invited her to write for Shrill. I also kind of liked the section about how she got her book published, and the nostalgic mentions of MySpace's blog feature (I totally forgot about that).

If I could shave out everything I didn't really like as much about this book, I would give this a much higher rating. But because of how much I ended up skimming, three stars seems fair. Samantha Irby is still my fellow curmudgeon-in-arms though, and I can't wait for her next collection of essays.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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