I'm still surprised at how much I enjoy collections of memoir essays / memoirist essays (not sure which makes better sense?) I have never really been a reader of biography or autobiography, I think because I usually associate those genres with celebrity memoirs and that just doesn't do it for me. Saying that, I read the Eric Idle biography earlier this year and really enjoyed it. I guess there is always an exception.
I bought Samantha Irby's collection while at the Oxford Book Fest and yes, I was charmed by the delightful cover; bold yellow with the cutest angry kitten. How could I possible resist? I had never heard of Samantha Irby but the blurb on the back and comments on the cover by the likes of Roxane Gay and I was sold.
These essays take us through Irby's life and focus on key events over her 36 years. This woman has not had it easy and yet her writing is self-deprecating and absolutely relatable. She covers all the difficult subjects - disability, race, weight, poverty, sexuality and is unflinching from all the things she experiences. She shocks and surprises with her candour, but through it all there is no mistaking the heart behind the wit and cynicism. I can honestly say, I have never read anything like this.
I took this with me on a recent trip to A&E when I knew I would have a long wait ahead of me. I think I managed a hundred or so pages among the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital department but I did have to curb my giggling and set in down a couple of times to compose myself. After this introduction and intense reading experience, for some reason I didn't pick it up again when I returned home. In fact I left it for a few weeks. The cover kept glaring at me from the bedside table until I picked it up again and I'm glad I did. I read it differently the second time I approached it. I staggered my reading and read one or two essays at a time, fitting it around my other reading. I think this is the way these collections work for me. I like to feel I can 'dip' in and out as I know I each chapter or section can be read in isolation.
I would certainly recommend this one as it is charming, loud, brash and warm. It's certainly worth your time.