Meaty

Samantha Irby

At times bawdy and at others incisively poignant, Samantha Irby dishes on topics like sex & celibacy, reality TV, body image, and Crohn’s disease. Then she will switch tracks and talk about becoming the primary caretaker of her mother, who was disabled from a combination of MS and a bad car accident, when she was in junior high school. But she manages to maintain some of her irreverent humor even then.

The essays here originated mainly from her blog bitches gotta eat and retain a definite blog-like quality, with a confessional tone and a lot of swearing and all caps for emphasis. Irby really puts it all out there. I don’t totally get where the title and the chicken on the cover came from or why there are a bunch of recipes at the end, but her ability to write unflinchingly and hilariously on topics many people would avoid at all costs is remarkable. “My Mother, My Daughter” (originally published on the Rumpus with founding editor Roxane Gay) is just so beautifully done, the way she portrays unnatural shifts in roles when parents succumb to illness and death when the children are too young to fully handle or process it (but they get through it anyway). This part really clobbered me:

I sat in the waiting room with the kind of faceless authority figure who sits with your child when you are her only person, in my pajamas: milk spilled down the front, urine staining the crotch, reading Harriet the Spy and completely unaware of the major shift occurring beneath the tectonic plates of my life.

FX is developing Meaty into a tv show, being co-produced by Irby with Abbi Jacobson and Jessi Klein (Irby and Klein will also co-write). It will be called “Guts and Glory.”