NPR's Recommended Books from 2017. Other than that, I knew almost nothing about the book or the author. Irby got right into it with her fictional application to the Bachelor television program. It immediately grabbed my attention, and was funny and entertaining. Right there, I decided to read Irby's book next.
"I do not have the energy to be in a relationship with someone exceptionally good-looking." (9)
I just recently read Hunger by Roxane Gay, and superficially, Gay and Irby have a lot in common. They are both Black women who struggle with their weight and have gone through some significant trauma in their lives. (I also read that the two are friends). In addition they have written books comprised of essays about their lives. However, the tone of these two books is very different. Irby's book begins and ends with humor, and even the difficult parts of the book are viewed through this spectrum. On the whole, it is a much happier, less introspective book.
Irby's writing is frenetic. She has no fear of unselfconsciously telling self-deprecating stories about herself and her life. And most of them are hilarious. Many of them involve her ten years working at a Veterinary Clinic. One involved a road trip in college with two of her frat-boy friends and the unfortunate consequences of old fast food:
"John was your typical west suburban, chest-thumping meatbag, with a body built for date rape and a giant shellacked auburn head that remained defiantly empty, save for a handful of professional baseball statistics and whatever Greek letters you need to learn to pledge the fraternity with the most lenient academic prerequisite." (66)
Maybe because Irby comes at you first with humor, you are already disarmed when she writes about the death of her mother, the abuse of her father, and her struggle with health issues. Irby has led a remarkable life, and I'm impressed that she has been able to deal with it as well as she has. Because of her writing style, I sometimes wondered if she was exaggerating or if she was deflecting pain with humor. However, she was also very relatable. I found myself nodding in understanding when she wrote about relationships or some of her insecurities. I was delighted to have found Samantha Irby, and I'm glad I read her book. I will read more of her in the future.
"I guess what I'm saying is that maybe we could all just mind our own fucking business for once, and that when you can actually see a person's scars, maybe be a pal and don't pick at them." (168)
"That totally blows my mind. Like how can I be this old? How could this have all gone down a decade ago? And how are the scars lurking under the surface of my skin still so easy to find?" (193)