Anything can be funny

Review and spoiler alert for Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I have not read their other works and didn’t really know what these essays were about. I never expected to have so much in common with Samantha Irby! (I am obviously very flattered). I never thought I would find so much solace in finding a piece of me in this incredibly witty book. But I do and I did. This book is hilarious, I was straight up laughing – real laughing, not just a puff of air. The humor is unexpected and delightful. From the dedication to the acknowledgment, the jokes are non-stop. Some are subtle, just casually strewn in and some quiet elaborate.

This review is not humorous because I am just not a funny person. I like to think I have a good sense of humor but I can’t tell a joke to save my life. Below you will find some serious talk about underlying themes, topics and issues talked about in the book. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the author did a great job with how they tackled chronic health issues, racism and poverty as funnily and poignantly as they did.

It was a very nice change of pace to read about some very serious issues in a dark-humor setting. I learned a lot, laughed even more and cried a little bit. If that doesn’t make a great book, I don’t know what does.

Here’s the thing, I did not grow up poor. Neither was I rich. I grew up in a very typically average middle class family in a third world country. I don’t claim to know the struggles of being an orphan or poor or black in America. That’s not what this is about. My childhood was traumatic, I am fat, I have a chronic illness and extreme anxiety. These are some overarching themes in the book that made me feel seen. This is what representation should look and feel like.

Maybe I am naïve to think everything in the essays is real, I am pretty sure it is – it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, someone out there (someone as brilliant as Samantha Irby no less) has had these thoughts and feelings even if it is just a part of their imagination. I am not questioning their experiences or claiming they are untrue – I am just saying for me, it doesn’t matter. I am able to relate and appreciate either way.

Let’s talk about some of my favorite essays. If you are short on time but want to read some, these are the essays I would strongly recommend.

Hung up! – from casual straight people racism to gun-toting maga idiots. Honestly, I had not realized how much casual racism exists in American culture and have only recently been educating myself. From nonchalant talk of ‘ghettos’ to curly hair unprofessionalism; from being denied AirBnB reservations to white women marveling at the fact that you can read (in my case, people seem fascinated with how well I speak English. Do you know India was ruled by the British for over two centuries? Like we don’t go to school on elephants). Going from that to scary fascists who might shoot you just for existing.

I was going to say Love and Marriage but since I am picking my favorites, I am going to have to go with Are you familiar with my work? – This is one had me in splits. I am sure it is flattering to be confused with Roxane Gay but pretty sure that would get old real fast.

My absolute favorite is A guide to simple home repairs. I don’t own a home, never have and never will. I refuse to buy real estate for many reasons. Mainly, I would feel nailed down, caged sort of. I prefer being able to up and move to another country as easily as possible, if I wanted to. However, I didn’t even know half the things that goes into owning a home. I am going to print this essay out (credited of course) and give it to people who seem entitled to give me their constant advice about real estate.

Hello, 911? This essay is pretty much my anxiety in written form. There are some different ways that I particularly experience anxiety. Yes, I do the thing where I imagine the worst possible outcome for every situation – but I also continue to validate this when one of those outcomes is true. I mean, it is just simple probability. If I imagined everything that could go wrong, some of it will go wrong at some point. I am learning to unlearn this terrible habit. Most of my day is spent in a flight, fight or freeze state. I am not only constantly second guessing myself but when I do experience moments of self-confidence and do something, I end up obsessing over it for hours. This spike in adrenaline is associated with panic attacks and this is why I just can’t get on rollercoasters or watch scary movies or river rafting – it’s just not fun for me. I am conditioned to or rather, I have conditioned myself to this association. Second hand anxiety is a real thing. I do get anxious for the protagonists in movies or TV shows, for strangers on the road, for fictional characters in books. It definitely is exhausting.

Oh also, I did get this book from the library but I intend on gifting it to one of my friends! I am so glad I stumbled upon this book. I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Have you read anything by Samantha Irby? Are you going to? Let me know!

Fat is not a bad word

Spoiler Alert: This is a review for Roxane Gay’s Hunger. There may be spoilers.

A lot has been said about Roxane Gay’s memoir, a lot of praise and a lot of acclaim. All of it is more than justified. I have been a huge fan of her writing since I read Bad Feminist. Hunger is on an entirely different level. Her writing is raw, you feel her pain and her journey. It makes you uncomfortable, sad, empathetic, empowered and also vulnerable all at the same time.

One of the most important things I think the book deals with is the result of trauma over several years. We always hear about these ‘success’ stories – how so and so went through this horrible event and are now healthy, how they survived and put the past behind them. We hear about the immediate effects of trauma. We rarely hear about how trauma breaks you, the very different destructive ways that it effects you. We rarely talk about trauma being carried into adulthood, being triggered several years later, about the phantom pain that is both constant and absent.

I know she wrote this book to tell her story. Learning her story has helped me so much in dealing with my own truths. To know that there is someone out there who may have experienced some of what you are experiencing provides an unknown type of support. It gives you a new perspective when you read someone put your thoughts to words – reading her thoughts about her self esteem, her self image shook me out of my spiral. She put to words the thoughts my brain and my soul spout everyday, and to hear them from somebody else’s mouth made me realize how badly I was treating myself.

I fall under the category of someone that is “forty, fifty pounds overweight”. Yes, I have not had her experiences first hand, but I was able to relate to: her relationship with food; her struggles of sharing space in this world; her wanting to be invisible, but also wanting to occupy space; and her being a feminist, yet not entirely being able to shed the pressures of societal expectations. I understand how my weight is a ‘family problem’, how the concern from loved ones only turns into more baggage you carry.

We as women have hard enough of a time being comfortable in our bodies – add to that the constant expectations from society, family, self can be debilitating. I am thankful for Roxane Gay, I am thankful she told her story, I am thankful I am able to read it and I am thankful for her thoughts that influence so many girls and women out there – me included.

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