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There’s lots to chuckle at here, as Irby remains a winning, personality-driven, self-deprecating essayist.

More humorous life reflections from a seasoned raconteur.

In this third volume of essays (this one “dedicated to Wellbutrin”), outspoken blogger and essayist Irby offers opinions and reactions to many of life’s more uncomfortable and inconvenient episodes. Among countless other topics, the author discusses her confusion about health bloggers’ obsessions with “adaptogens and other beneficial herbs,” her “hostile, elusive, disrespectful” menstrual cycle, and her body. “I have been stuck with a smelly, actively decaying body that I never asked for,” she writes, “and am constantly on the receiving end of confusing, overwhelming messages for how to properly care for and feed it.” A linear timeline chronicling Irby’s attempt at partying while “staring middle age right in its sensible orthopedic inserts” is particularly hilarious and relatable for readers of a certain age. Even when the author describes pitching show concepts to Netflix or battling Crohn’s disease, her one-liners and comic timing remain intact. A lot of the best anecdotal material springs forth from the more embarrassing and cringeworthy moments of the author’s life. She envies those who can go out on the town and not become hindered with bathroom issues or people who effortlessly manage a household. Regarding children, she writes, “I jump away from children the way most people jump away from a hot stove—though she doesn’t “dislike them.” Some of the material in this latest collection has been covered in her previous two books, but Irby’s devotees won’t mind because her personal hyperawareness, brazen attitude, and raunchy sense of humor are in fine form, even when the writing is haphazard and frenetic. Ultimately, though, the author manages to shake things up and keep most of her observances fresh and funny, and she also incorporates more details of life with her wife.

There’s lots to chuckle at here, as Irby remains a winning, personality-driven, self-deprecating essayist.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-56348-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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