The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West
Written by Ashley Kelmore, Posted in Reviews
People who want essays that critically explore politics and pop culture while making you laugh your ass off.
In a nutshell:
Author Lindy West follows up her Bestseller (and TV show!) Shrill with this book of essays exploring the Trump era, the Me Too movement, and many other aspects of political and pop culture.
“We need to start calling things by their real names: racism is racism, sexism is sexism, mistakes are mistakes, and they can be rectified if we do the work.”
“Watching otherwise rational human beings rhapsodize about [Ted] Bundy’s ‘charm’ and ‘brilliance’ while furrowing their brows over Elizabeth Warren’s dubious ‘likability’ creates a particularly American kind of whiplash.”
“Both sides, inasmuch as there are two ‘sides,’ are not equally stupid or equally bad. The notion that they are is human-extinction-level dangerous.”
“…if you are a person who is unable to access abortion for any reason, your state is total disenfranchisement and your right to life has been stripped from you.”
Why I chose it:
West is a fantastic author.
There’s something wonderful (dare I say magical?) about the way Lindy West writes. She can cut to the chase quickly while also providing hilarious analogies and examples to illustrate her points. She shares parts of herself that she doesn’t owe to anyone as a way to personalize stories. She takes a critical eye to things that maybe one has been thinking about and nails down the exact components one should be taking away from them. And she writes like a person might actually talk! Her asides are hilarious, and I can definitely picture her saying many parts of these essays in conversation with her friends.
The first essay of the book is the inspiration for the title – the US president’s insistence that he is the subject of a witch hunt. West explains why that is absurd, but turns the concept around, claiming that we are witches, and we are the ones doing the hunting. Hunting down horrible, dangerous political leaders, manipulative and rapey Hollywood figures, the patriarchy.
I love it.
The essays range in topic from her love of the movie Clue, to a critical exploration of Adam Sandler’s films and what they say about what white men aspire to / get away with, abortion access, the ridiculousness of South Park’s ‘both sides are equally bad’ rhetoric, and so much more.
She even went to one of GOOP’s events!
I think my favorite is the one where she explains why she left Twitter. It sums up so much of what is deeply wrong with that social media platform (among others) while also acknowledging the ways it can be so important to different groups. I also enjoyed her takes on other pop culture folks I grew up exposed to, such as Adam Corolla and Joan Rivers – they were genuinely different and interesting to read.
I did not know this was coming out – I saw it mentioned in passing somewhere and immediately purchased it. There were only four copies available on Amazon UK, so I’m thinking maybe it doesn’t have a distributor here yet? Anyways, if you’re overseas, keep checking, and maybe ask your indie booksellers if they’re planning / able to carry it.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
As with Shrill, which made the trip across the ocean when I moved here from Seattle, I will Keep it. And also buy copies for friends. Maybe give it as Christmas gifts.