I’ve been volunteering at my local library, and shelving books has taken me into unfamiliar territory: the nonfiction section! (dun dun duuuuuuun!) Since I’ve been attempting to read stuff by non-white non-men lately anyway, when I found this on my cart to return to the shelves, I decided to keep it for myself. I’m glad I did – Phoebe is a delight.
The book is organized into general essay sections, but she rambles a bit, which makes it all much more conversational and easy to picture her telling you all this in a coffee shop. Plus, I listened to a couple episodes of her podcasts (2 Dope Queens and Soooo Many White Guys) so I could read it all with her voice in my head. She covers a range of topics, from black history and a beginner’s course in black hair to sexism in stand-up comedy. Some of it is familiar, like how Phoebe feels like she has to dress up in her Sunday best to go shopping so that store employees don’t follow her around suspiciously. However, in the wise words of the Dead Milkmen, “Sure, it’s an easy target…but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a target.” But a lot of her essays cover interesting and aggravating and frustrating things that were new to me (she’s apparently not supposed to be a U2 superfan), and I enjoyed getting a new perspective on things. Plus, she ends the book with a series of letters to her baby niece to guide her through life, and it’s adorable.
The writing is very conversational, and Phoebe’s got a great voice and style. All the hashtag jokes made me feel about a billion years old, but that’s my own hangup (#Methuselah).