Samantha Irby has a really eye-catching cover design for her books. I picked up another one because there was a cat on the cover (it was bright yellow I think?).
She's an award-winning essayist that really knows how to land a story. I tend to remember and think about her stories way after I've shut the book. I mean, they aren't all deep and serious, but I wasn't expecting to really have them stay with me like they have. Plus, there's a lot of funny moments.
Title: Wow, No Thank You
Author: Samantha Irby
Page Number: 319 pages (paperback)
Genre: nonfiction, memoir, humor, essays
A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America.
Irby is turning forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and is courted by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife and two step-children in a small white, Republican town in Michigan where she now hosts book clubs. This is the bourgeois life of dreams. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with "skinny, luminous peoples" while being a "cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person," "with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees," and hides Entenmann's cookies under her bed and unopened bills under her pillow.
Look, Irby is not a small-time writer by any means. I happened upon her book when it was already a NYT bestseller. And not the "bestseller" because large donor groups bought copies (how are those denoted...asterisk? crosses?) but because actual people want to read her. She's written for television series (big ones) and when she gets interviewed...they give her time. There's hype behind Irby.
Usually, I don't do well with hyped authors...the marketing doesn't tend to match my taste, but Irby is different. She deserves the hype (in my honest opinion). She can deliver a punchy, eloquent, deep, and quick essay. I can't do that!
Irby is self-depreciating, but she does it in a way that doesn't viciously put herself or others down. I think that's a talent that many writers (and non-writers) lack. When she talks about being uncomfortable in her body or having a wife that's more athletic, she's not putting anyone down. I'm not sure if I've described that well, but I think it's important. I've read a bunch of books recently where I felt there were added layers of meanness, so it made me appreciate Irby a bit more.
The essays feel like your friend...who may or may not be on a caffeine buzz and is awake at 4 AM after watching two hours of informercials...has decided to drop you a long email about her insane week. How insane was her week? She stayed inside with an IBS flare-up but get ready...because she Rear Windowed the crap out of her neighborhood and before you know it, you are INVESTED in what Leslie three doors down has done to her backyard and how it goes against city ordinances. I probably didn't sell that feeling...but it's the cozy comfort of talking to your friend about important and non-important events.
I liked her essays on her family, her friends, her health, and her anxieties. I wasn't as interested in some of her faster essays/list-acles? But they did break apart the essay format, so that was an interesting choice.
She talks about her favorite music in one essay. It was a hit and miss for me. We do not have the same taste in music, so while I found it interesting for how she used the songs to talk about her past, I skimmed it a tiny bit.
Otherwise, the rest of the essays were perfection. I can't relate to it all, but I was fine with her brutal honesty about having a medical issue that causes her daily decisions (I believe she has Crohn's), marrying a woman with children, moving to the Midwest, living in a house that needs repairs--mundane life stuff really!
I need to get her third book (Meaty), but I want the pink cover. I found an earlier version before this cover design. I like my covers to match.
I'm not sure I did a great job. I listed this as 4 stars in my rating system and I kept it (and actually bought an additional copy for a friend). I just feel like if I expand on anything, I'll ruin the stories. She covers home repairs, pitching for a TV series, meeting other writers, how she used to get ready to go out, body aches/illnesses, marriage and kids, and her jobs.
It's honestly the perfect book for staying in during the pandemic (it was released perfectly then!).