Shrill by Lindy West
Love. I love this book. I read it in under 24 hours
Lindy West is a fantastic writer based in Seattle. Locals first got to know her writing in The Stranger, our funky weekly paper. Most other folks know her as a writer for The Guardian. She uses her wit and intellect to discuss issues like being a fat woman existing in the world (that’s her wedding picture at the top of this post), the prevalence and support of rape culture in stand-up comedy, and the need for access to reproductive health care, including abortion.
Ms. West has a way with words that I admire. She can take a serious issue and find a way to make it funny without diminishing it at all. For example, in the very first chapter of this book she lists all of the fat female role models she had growing up. They’re basically limited to characters from Disney films, and I think only one is human. It’s a funny chapter that drives home the fucked-up ness of the issue. Sample quote: “A League of Their Own is a classic family comedy that mines the age-old question: What if women … could do things?”
Every chapter is an essay that could stand on its own, although they connect really well to each other. I found myself marking them up with notes even more than usual. I did skim one of the sections of the book. I read it, but REALLY quickly. The chapter involves a discussion about rape jokes, and includes a recounting of Ms. West going on W. Kamau Bell’s show to “debate” the issue with another (male) comedian. She is right, he is not, and it’s just so frustrating to read the willful ignorance that some people employ to not have to make any adjustments to their worldviews. I just couldn’t devote the time to it that I should have. But I will, some day.
I wish I’d had this book when I was younger, and plan to gift it to my nieces when they are older. I also know that I will be re-reading this book regularly in the years to come.