Tough times spur a popular stand-up comedian and actor to dive deep into her own inimitable psyche.
In Slate’s (Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me, 2011) intriguing inner world, raindrops are “wet water bloops” that fall unexpectedly from the sky, and brassieres are “cotton cup bags” that respectable ladies are obliged to don before heading out to dinner. The use of deconstructed language allows the author to move beyond the banal and replace it with something that more closely approximates her singular experience of being alive. Whether joyous or sad, Slate’s personal journey hasn’t always been lighthearted. Indeed, the author feels moved to describe herself as “dying” on multiple occasions throughout her life. She is concerned with many other things, as well, including the nature of lovelorn ghosts and the ethereal goodness of dogs. Underneath the gauzy, shimmering scaffolding, however, is an all-too-universal story about heartbreak, depression, and a failed marriage: “One man was gone from my life just about the time that another man pig-snorted his way into the presidency….I didn’t know how or why to give myself small pleasures.” Through it all, she has found solace in a circle of good friends and the redemptive powers of a neat house and an incredible garden. Slate seems to fit so comfortably inside the poetic realms of her impressive imagination that she has no need to abandon them, not even when she is rebuking the pernicious ugliness of male patriarchy, another element that has heavily impacted her life. In one particularly powerful interlude, the author achieves biblical grandeur, envisioning herself ripping out the ancient evil root and stem. “I take one last good look at that poison pod and I just go ahead and fling it,” she writes. “I fling that pod back into the gloomy section of outer space that is for bad gods with sickly and sour spirits.”
A uniquely talented writer and performer offers up an unexpectedly uncommon approach to autobiographical writing.