A few years ago I decided that I would be brave. I was living a rather isolated life in Tampa, with only my husband and my husband’s friends to keep me company, and we didn’t get together with the friends very often. I said to myself, “I’m going to make some online connections, I’m going to meet new people online.”
So I started small, I sent friend requests to people my current online friends already knew. If they trusted them then I felt okay trusting them too. This brought me to Samantha Irby. I was not aware she had a book, I was not aware she had a blog. She was smart and funny online, and friends with people I trusted and I wanted to be her friend too. Please understand, I was not a fangirl. I just wanted some smart, funny friends so I didn’t go crazy with loneliness. It took a lot for me to say “We’ve never met in real life, but can we please be friends?” I am not courageous that way.
Slowly over time I discovered Ms. Irby was so much more than smart and funny, she is brilliant. She is someone who cares about those she loves and her personality is equal parts nihilistic and exuberant. I bought her book, and cried and laughed as I read. I discovered her blog and slowly worked my way through the archives. I discovered that this person I had never met in real life is absolutely spectacular, and I was so lucky to have stumbled across her in my facebook search for a friend.
Her new book, We Are Never Meeting In Real Life, is a continuation of her triumph from her first book, Meaty. You’re laughing hysterically at her misfortune at pooping out of the door of a car in a snowstorm because of IBS and McDonald’s, and then suddenly you’re “I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING” at an essay which is as devastating as pooping out of a car is funny. This variation in memoir-esque recollection is what keeps you glued to the pages. This book is an emotional journey, one that you must take.
I don’t want to give anything away. I’ve read the book twice now and I’ve picked up something new each time that has tickled my funny bone and tugged at my heartstrings. Irby’s writing is so good and flows like a natural stream of consciousness so it’s like you’re there watching her father’s ashes blow back into her face or in the room as she and her college friends watch Braveheart over and over. Also trigger warning about Helen Keller, I had to stop reading 12398587343 times because I couldn’t see my Kindle through the tears.
Perhaps more important than feeding the need for being provided with the personal stories of another human being, this book should also give you a sense of the important issues of our time: poverty, race, sexuality – issues that are so prevalent in our political and personal conversations right now. Amongst the butt stuff and cunnilingus you’ll be learning about the ISSUES. She doesn’t come out and say “in this essay I will explore the issue of race and LGBT discrimination by describing the fear I experienced driving through the South with my girlfriend,” she trusts you to read and understand.
What I love the most about her writing is that I walk away with so much anger at how she’s been treated without any prompting. I think a good test of whether or not someone is a decent person is to hand them one of Samantha’s books and then videotape their reactions or ask them how they feel after each chapter. If they are choking on their tears and snot as they laugh, they can be trusted. If they come back and are like, “I hear what she’s saying, but actually…” please remove that person from your life.
Watching this book make the rounds ahead of its release has been so exciting. Essence, O Magazine, The New York Times, all the while with a pilot based on Meaty heading to Fox – all of this is success and recognition that is well deserved. Irby is a talented, amazing garbage person, and I know she knows I say that with affection. I have never met her in real life, but she is my friend and I think that you should go read her book, not just because she’s my friend, because she is a brilliant, amazing, important voice that you need to hear.