I don’t think I have ever read a book that left me wishing the author was my new best friend, or that my mind had created the rich short stories printed on the page. Samantha Irby’s Meaty did just that. Sam, can I call you Sam? I may have developed a girl crush on you.
I immediately searched her blog, Bitches Gotta Eat, after finishing Meaty so I could feed myself with more of her raunchalicious humor. If I could choose the category to file this collection under, I would choose comedic memoir as almost every story gives insight into the overly personal thoughts in Irby’s mind, her point-of-view on an array of topics (meaningless sex, loving black and white people, and shitting), and events she has experienced that I don’t think I would even feel comfortable sharing with my own best friend.
Each essay is flooding with (enjoyable) vulgarity, extensive wit, and a refreshing perspective on hot topics in today’s culture. While some may feel all the “mother fuckers” used are unnecessary, I think all the “bitches,” “shits,” and “assholes,” give it that extra punch to go over the line. The line that Irby is fearless to cross. I laughed my own ass off the entire way through and had to fight the desire to respond to others with “my dude.”
She asks important questions that many of us females have probably asked ourselves such as, “Why does this dude only have bars of Dial soap? Can I use that shit without my face cracking into a million pieces? Why doesn’t he have Vaseline? Or Listerine?! If I could just find a bottle of mouthwash under the sink maybe I could swish with that and use a Q-tip to scrape some of the plaque off my teeth before I have to breathe on him again.” After all, spending the night at a man’s house can be an adventure in itself.
Although I lol’d through almost every word, Irby isn’t only speaking on lighthearted topics. She opens up about the loss of both her parents, how she basically had to take care of herself and her mother once her mother developed MS, and her stint of living in a crackhouse which eventually left her homeless once a man tried stealing her belongings. She puts her vulnerabilities on the table when point-by-point breaking down her insecurities of her body and what it is like to share our naked skin with another individual--all things both men and women can relate to experiencing.
Despite the seriousness and realness of what Irby went through, I am not sure anyone could make their dreadful experiences with Crohn’s disease sound so fucking comical. She made it sound quite awful actually: the amount of dates she feels she has ruined (or her asshole has ruined) due to the battle that ensues between food and her intestines. She compares this battle to the Capulets and Montagues and Tupac and Biggie. While your heart breaks a little as you totally feel for her and cannot imagine losing control of your bowels at the ripe age of 25, you can’t help but appreciate her way of turning a horrible situation into an entertaining one.
The language throughout the book never dulls. Irby perfectly chose which words and phrases to inflect upon with all caps to encourage the intensity. In fact, those were the moments I found myself laughing the hardest. Many of the essays also include lists on topics such as her physical imperfections, beauty tips, and how to save money. These are not just dry, bullet-pointed lists, but flow with the same candor weaved in the rest of her writing.
While I normally would be horrified to read about a woman’s hardened sex panties, explosive diarrhea, and awkward sexcapades, it left me saying “Damn, now this is an empowered woman.” Irby speaks a lot on the single life of a woman, and although I have my own meaningful relationship with a significant other, she is the first woman writer in a long time I have come across making the single life not sound as horrible as society tries to make one think.
She also comforted me as woman trying to find her way in the world that if I reach 33 without a career and still no idea how to work a French press, there are still many nights of Netflix to look forward to and tacos to be had. You best believe I will be trying that beef taco casserole featured in “Le Foods.”
Irby’s sense of humor may not be for everyone, and Meaty may leave some biting more than they can chew and swallow, but those are the people who need to loosen up their belts and buttons and learn to appreciate the brutal honesty and real humor on the embarrassing, dumb shit people go through every day. I can say for myself that Meaty has made me an official Samantha Irby fan, and I cannot wait to read more from her.