I really wanted to like this book. It seemed up my alley, and I was in the mood for essays; something sassy and brisk. The back cover blurbs were encouraging, and I had finished Lindy West’s Shrill just prior to the start of this cannonball read, so her endorsement left me hopeful that this book would have the same effervescent tone while having something larger to say about culture or gender or race. Instead, it just felt to me like reading someone’s blog – which makes sense given Irby’s start online – occasionally amusing anecdotes without much point.
Moreover, not only was I disappointed that I didn’t like the book, but the reason WHY I didn’t like it feels like my own failure – I felt like the book traded oversharing and crassness for wit, but I know that so much of what I do love could have this same criticism leveled at it. And given that much of what irby is crass about is womanhood and sex, which women have traditionally been told to keep silent about, it feels wrong to complain about. I guess the distinction for me is that the shock value lines seemed to come in place of humor rather than augmenting it; reading this book felt a bit like hanging out with that friend – we all have one – who wants to one up every story.
There were genuinely funny moments in this book, and some touching ones – it’s easy to see why Irby became popular – but they just didn’t feel in service of any larger point, and shock for its own sake is easy enough to come by. This is not to condemn the book, merely to say it wasn’t for me.