Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby⠀(Buy it HERE.)
⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 out of 5 stars.⠀
“I can’t watch This Is Us because even though the brothers are hot and the dad is a smoke show, in the first couple of episodes the fat girl doesn’t get to be much more than “fat”, and wow, no thank you!” ~ Samantha Irby
What I love most about Samantha Irby’s essays (aside from the humor) is how normal she is. By that, I mean that through a certain lens, she’s decidedly counter-cultural. She’s Black. Fat. Poor. A “casual bisexual” married to a white lady in MAGA country. She has chronic illnesses, a string of hilarious failed past situationships, a sad family story, and the grouchiest, most ungrateful pets ever. But despite–or perhaps because of all of this, Irby seems to really see herself as her own default, which I am a big fan of. It’s not vulnerability for likes or tokenism or proclamative self-othering. Irby just is who she is and that’s normal, relatable, and often very funny. Even when the jokes are at her expense they’re not mocking any of the things that identify her–but she can and does poke fun at all the weird behaviors she’s picked up in order to survive in this weird world. Standout pieces include “Love and Marriage”, a surprisingly sensible, gentle advice column on practical romance and “Hollywood Summer” detailing the time Irby wrote an episode of the hit show Shrill.
This is the 4th collection of funny, sincere, honest essays by the writer of the blog “bitches gotta eat” and the 3rd that I’ve read. I hope it’s not her last, but there is a feeling of coming full circle in this one that makes me wonder. In her first collection, Meaty, Irby was an hourly employee at an animal hospital living in the weird socioeconomic no man’s land people who are very smart and very poor but also have decent taste often wind up in. (Been there myself, still there, do not recommend.) Her second, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, finds her settling down with her wife in the suburbs, dealing more fully with her parent’s early deaths and her own childhood poverty, and coming to terms with her health. This third book dips into familiar former territory but now, instead of fantasizing about writing TV shows Irby is actually being flown out to LA and rubbing elbows with showrunners for months at a time, renting office space to write full time in, giving humorous advice on how to get published by accident and what it’s like to be a middle-aged married lady who still doesn’t know anything. I feel like after this book, Irby will have grown too big for essays and memoirs, and I hope we see a show or film as her next project. I’ll miss her essays though.
While it’s not as edgy and hilarious as Meaty, it’s also not as sad as We Are Never Meeting In Real Life and it really made me happy to see someone whose poorly formatted blog posts I used to send to my friends on work breaks now writing about creating whole TV scripts and giving self-deprecating advice on how to make friends as an adult.
4 and a half stars, a handful of Immodium, and a gold star for adulting to Wow, No Thank You.
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