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Rating: 3.5* of five
I first reviewed this collection of essays for The Small Press Book Review. It's by a blogger called Samantha Irby, a Person of Size whose blog is called Bitches Gotta Eat.
I wasn't sure about these essays until I hit the one on diets and dieting, when I started laughing so hard I scared the dog. Read the review, see why. I quoted the (to me) funniest one of them.
The Publisher Says: Samantha Irby explodes onto the page in her debut collection of brand-new essays about being a complete dummy trying to laugh her way through her ridiculous life of failed relationships, taco feasts, bouts with Crohn's Disease, & more, all told with the same scathing wit & poignant candor long-time readers have come to expect from her notoriously hilarious blog, www.bitchesgottaeat.com.
In addition to co-hosting The Sunday Night Sex Show, a sex-positive live lit show, and Guts & Glory, a reading series featuring essayists, Samantha has performed all over Chicago. She opened for Baratunde Thurston during his "How to Be Black" tour. She has been profiled in the Chicago Sun-Times as well as in Time Out Chicago, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus and Jezebel. Samantha and partner Ian Belknap write a comedy advice blog at www.irbyandian.com.
My Review: It's good to be young. I remember that. I'm not young anymore, and frankly wouldn't be young again for all the money there is. But that's age's privilege, to celebrate itself. Every age's privilege, in fact, and Samantha Irby celebrates being young.
In a very testy way.
Hell, if I had Crohn's disease, I'd be testy too. In fact, I am testy, no Crohn's needed. But Irby gets testy over very young problems, as in the essay "Would Dying Alone Really Be So Terrible?":
I want to watch porn by myself, because a dude just won't let you take five minutes to masturbate without his dick thinking it's an invitation, and then that five minutes becomes twenty-five minutes (if you're lucky) of heat and sweat and effed-up hair and having to remake the bed and being late for work and even then, after all that grunting and shoving and groaning, you might STILL have to get your vibrator out while this motherfucker passes out on top of the shirt you'd taken out to wear to the office.This is the kind of problem a lot of folks of either gender and all persuasions would enjoy having, if the dating sites' usage and match-up numbers aren't complete lies.
Irby's brand of testy humor gets a laugh-out-loud funny workout in her meditation on the American obsession with weight, weight loss, effort-free weight loss, and laziness in "The Tapeworm Diet." She appears, on her teensy little blog avatar, not to be an immensely large person, but I don't know this for a fact as I've never met the lady. She claims to be sizable: "I eat bad things and go to sleep immediately afterward. There, I solved the mystery of fatness for you. You're welcome." Garshk, and here I thought it was my slow metabolism!
Irby then goes on to skewer the un-fucking-believable idiotic should-be-illegal insanities out there for an unsuspecting public to follow as diets:
The Twinkie Diet.Sing it, soul-daughter. Couldn't have said it better myownself. The spoiledness of the average American is never in more breathtaking relief than in diet advice and weight-loss program information. Most people on the planet would like to have enough food to get full once a day. People here eat so much they need advice on how not to turn into land-blimps. Something is wrong with this picture. Samantha Irby makes you giggle as she pokes your social conscience, so permaybehaps people who need to hear will listen without realizing what they're hearing. It's the only way past their privileged-person defenses, the evidence shows.
A typical day in the life of Kansas State University nutrition researcher Mark Haub, creator of the Junk Food Diet, which consists of 60% junk food supplemented by a protein shake, multivitamin pills, and a can of green beans or four stalks of celery every day. He avoided meats, whole grains, and fruits. September 10, 2010: A double espresso; two servings of Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake; one Centrum Advanced Formula pill; one serving of Little Debbie Star Crunch cookies (my jam!); a Diet Mountain Dew (barf); half a serving of Doritos Cool Ranch corn chips; two servings of Kellogg's Corn Pops cereal; a serving of whole milk (squirt!); half a serving of raw baby carrots; one and a half servings of Duncan Hines Family Style Chewy Fudge brownie; half a serving of Little Debbie Zebra Cake; one serving of Muscle Milk Protein Shake drink; Total: 1589 calories.
Just reading that shit makes my fucking teeth hurt. I think I also might've just caught diabetes through the computer screen. This can't be life, right? Snack cakes and baby carrots? NO IT CANNOT.
The collection is far and away best taken in doses. It's like any smorgasbord. The offerings are tempting, and the urge to overindulge is strong. Resist the urge that you not grow indifferent to the charms of the groaning board! Read one or two of these tempting treats. Put the book down, pick up something grim and joyless for a contrast...are you caught up on your Bolaño reading? isn't there a new Murakami or something?...and then come back to laugh and learn.
Wait! I didn't mean learn! I meant enjoy! Enjoy, not something hard and boring like learn!
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