days months in one’s life when the early morning pain au chocolat, hastily eaten over the coffee shop counter, is literally both the highlight of the day and ultimate self care. Opening any newspaper, or worse, venturing into the tenth-circle-of-hell aka people’s opinions on social media is no longer staying on top of world events, but has become literal self-harming in its most obvious form.
On top of the fleeting personal miseries, now we also must worry about no-one paying for our pensions because the pesky millennials are not multiplying themselves as fast and as efficiently as our politicians had calculated them to; that Putin will, until eternity, decide the outcome of every election under the sun; and that Brexit may well mean that my online cosmetics purchases will be subject to customs levies, something I take extremely seriously.
I read for many different reasons. Sometimes I wish to escape, sometimes I am looking for information, sometimes I simply want to be entertained. I found Samantha Irby’s We are never meeting in real life. at Brussels Passa Porta, which easily has the best buyer in town. Their English collection is not massive, but goodness do they cater for indie-freaks like me. Most overseas books that I drool over on instagram are often already on their shelves when I make my weekly Saturday book-haul.
Back to Irby. I had not read her books before – I didn’t know of her bitches gotta eat –blog, either. We are never… is a collection of essays, each of them absolutely hilarious. I hate it when book-cover blurbs say things like “Laugh-out-loud-funny!” when the book clearly is not, so I am extremely careful with using this description about anything. I did laugh out loud when I read Irby, though. Or at least kind of chuckled.
She has a voraciously greedy style to write. It’s quick-paced, wordy, rambling, outrageous and sharp as shit. Reading the essays I felt like being inside a stand-up show.
I am white, straight and from a privileged background (free & universal access to education etc.) compared to most people in this world, and thus I was thinking to myself how much I am even allowed to relate to Irby, who is everything but (I did find something that I do have in common with her, though, and it’s receiving presents from people: “How do you know what to do with your face when someone is staring at you as they’re forcing a thing you don’t want and can’t use into your life? I’m too old for gifts. Everything I want is impractical or expensive or requires a written prescription.”)
On the other hand art is to be enjoyed by all, I guess. And advance apologies for using a lame cliche, but most issues she writes about are universally human, and easily experienced by anyone with a soul and a beating heart.
But yes, do read the essays, my favourites are the ones about her hate-hate relationship with her cat called Helen Keller (after the first American deaf-blind to earn a Bachelor’s degree), and Irby’s pilgrimage to Nashville to scatter her father’s ashes. And yes, everything is politically extremely incorrect.
In the photo you will also be able to observe a tube of Weleda’s Skin Food and a Carmex lip balm. Both everyday favourites. There’s also a postcard with Brussels sprouts on it, which has no explanation.