Quietly Hostile

Source: DRC via NetGalley (Vintage Anchor, Vintage) in exchange for an honest review
Publication Date: May 16, 2023
Synopsis: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

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Why did I choose to read this book?

I have read Meaty, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, and Wow No Thank You so I can’t stop now.

What is this book about?

This book is about everything Samantha has been up to since a little bit before the pandemic hit. It includes professional, personal, and medical stories. If you are familiar with Irby’s work, you know that the professional gets technical (which I appreciate!), the personal gets REALLY personal, and the medical can be shocking. If you’ve never read Irby’s work before, I would strongly recommend that you start at Meaty and work your way up through to this one. Reading her books is like having a long-term friendship with someone – their shenanigans are easier to understand when you’ve been with them for a while. But oh boy if you like to get mad at things with someone else who is also mad at those things? Sam’s your girl.

What is notable about this story?

I love Samantha Irby’s writing so much. My brain devours it while my emotions scream YES BITCH ME TOO GODDAMN and I come back to the idea that what is most important in this terrible fucking world is knowing you aren’t alone and Irby is an absolute mastermind at writing an essay that shows you that you are not alone. I cannot explain it. There is almost always something in everything she’s written that I’ve identified with, sympathized or empathized with. It’s fantastic, she’s magical.

Was anything not so great?

I feel like it’s important to point out here that these are parts of the book that were not so great for me. The book is very good, and chances are you’ll identify with completely different chapters than I did. You might laugh yourself silly reading her Sex and the City chapter. The comments I’m making here are purely about my personal enjoyment of the book. Irby’s books are like buffets, there’s something for everyone!

There’s always a chapter or two that I either (1) cannot read because it’s too gross for me to stomach or (2) know nothing about the topic. I skipped the part of the chapter where she describes the 39 minute nun porn video she revisits (I just don’t need to read the alt text for that, sorry!), and the entire Sex and the City chapter (Samantha was one of the writers for And Just Like That!). I had no idea what was going on because the original show was outside of my lane, so the humor missed me as well. I also kind of skimmed through the chapter about how her first book Meaty was almost made into a television show. I think it was shitty for them to drop her show after so long, and reading about it made me a little bit (a lot) mad for her.

I only have one small critique, and it’s more about this kind of book in general. I think about this book the same way I did Jenny Lawson’s recent book Broken (in the best possible way): these essays work well when they are posted once every few weeks and it’s a quick jolt to the system. Strung together like this, Irby’s writing style of run on sentences can get difficult to read, just like Lawson’s manic-ness can get kind of monotonous. So a word to the wise: do not read this book like a book. Read a chapter then walk away and come back later for the next one. Treat it like it’s a blog, and each post comes out on Thursday or something. This is good writing! The book format just kind of ruins it a bit.

What’s the verdict?

3 stars on Goodreads because I had to skip so much more of this book than any of her other ones. If you are a fan of hers you should absolutely go get this one. If you are reading my review and don’t know who she is, go get Meaty and see if she’s a person you’d like to get to know. I am disappointed that her blog isn’t up anymore, or I’d point you there to get a feel for her writing. I love Samantha and I think you should too, but this book feels like it’s talking to people who already know and love Samantha, so it’s not a great place to jump in. Either way, buy her books or get them at your public library!

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