Readers of Samantha Irby's rollicking third collection of essays will be hard-pressed to explain what, exactly, their new favorite book is about. Learning to love your "portable handheld tele-communication device"? Periods, ablations and living with Crohn's disease? Home repair and '90s mixtapes? Realizing self-care "is a full-time job with shi**y benefits"?
Somehow, all of the above. In fact, Wow, No Thank You's lack of central thesis--rather, its embrace of the oddity, inconsistency and frustration of adult life in the Internet age--is what makes it so hysterically compelling. Irby straddles the line between hip, gregarious cultural critic and grumpy, exhausted elder who thinks the term "cultural critic" sounds insane. She claims to have no ulterior motives--she's not trying to launch movements; she just likes complaining on the Internet--yet each of her essays makes a statement for which "relatable" is too trite a descriptor. Her humor feeds off of all-capitals, curse words and excessive repetition. In one entry, she starts every sentence with "Sure, sex is fun, but..." before suggesting more than 150 replacements, including "Sure, sex is fun, but have you ever designed a new IKEA kitchen in your mind?" and "Sure, sex is fun, but have you ever deleted your voice mail without listening to any of it first?"
Sure, Irby, the blogger behind bitchesgottaeat.com and author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, might not be the unifying cultural voice the U.S. needs. She would never deem to try. But she is a whole lot of fun. Sometimes, that's more than enough. --Lauren Puckett, freelance writer