Four years before her 2017 essay collection We Are Never Meeting in Real Life was a New York Times bestseller, blogger Samantha Irby published Meaty with a small press. Vintage has had the good sense to reissue it (with a bit of inconspicuous augmentation). Meaty is another series of devastatingly frank and frankly hilarious personal essays for people who like their writers stingy with sentiment and generous with cusswords.

For Irby, food is a persistent source of both joy and gastrointestinal havoc, and her essays are bundled into four recipe-spiked sections named for meals and eating experiences. Although the essays burble along without an obvious organizing principle, the book is front-loaded with tales of Irby's bleak suburban-Chicago youth (poverty, suicide attempt, disabled mother, alcoholic father). This provides a crucial backdrop for the personal trials that she goes on successfully to mine for copy. Spurs for invective include navigating black beauty standards, being overweight and not conventionally pretty, dealing with roommates and having Crohn's disease, which threatens any pleasure that she might hope to derive from eating and sex.

It may amuse fans of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life--which finds Irby married with (step)children--that toward Meaty's end, she seems to have betrothed herself to the single life; as she puts it, "If I wanted someone to nag and yell at all the time I'd have a goddamned baby." The reader can only envy her chosen family: life with Irby can't be dull. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

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