There are a few writers who can make you laugh out loud with the written word, and Samantha Irby certainly tops the list. The dry humour that she displayed in We Are Never Meeting in Real Life (published in 2017) is back with a bang in Wow, No Thank You— her collection of essays that was published in March this year. For starters, the title in itself sums up our feelings for 2020!
While in We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, she is “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”, her writing and self-deprecating humour have certainly matured in Wow, No Thank You, where is trying to be “hip” at the dawn of her 40s. The essays discuss a plethora of topics, ranging from marriage to “detachment parenting” her stepchildren, from chronic prolonged illnesses (in plural — depression, degenerative arthritis and Crohn’s disease) to ageing (she turned 40 earlier this year), from self-disparagement to dealing with success.
As someone who has never shied from showing you-know-which-finger to the society, Irby's take on each of the issues is something that will leave you in absolute splits yet push you to think beyond the stereotypes. For instance, she has an absolutely hilarious list of what she "would rather do than carrying human to term in her battered uterus" which she imagines "at this point looked like one of those purplish beefsteak tomatoes that has rotted and been left in the compost under the sink for weeks". And the list includes listening to a man's jokes. Take that, gender stereotyping!
The inner dialogues that she puts out in the book show Irby’s overcritical and overanalysing self, something most of us (even those of us in our 30s and 50s) can well relate to. The way she brings out details about the self that no one notices except the self, remind us of the private conversations we all have with the person who lives in us.
The book has essays on dealing with creative success in the mid-life and shows us that life is often not what it seems to be. Sample this: when she details her experience on writing in Los Angeles, she gets into how the glitzy and plush LA offices are awkward for someone who works in a modest Midwestern home. In her own words, she lived in “a one-bedroom where I could see all of my possessions at the same time” in Chicago, before she got married. she is never scared to poke fun at herself or others. She describes her weeks in LA as a series of meetings with “TV executives slash amateur astrologers” and herself as a “slightly damp Midwest person” — you get the drift?
Read the book for the relatability factor. Irby is sure to make you laugh about your deepest and darkest insecurities.