Interview: Samantha Irby, Author Of 'Wow, No Thank You.'Irby's new essay collection is Wow, No Thank You. She says it was inspired by moving from Chicago to Kalamazoo and feeling like a fish out of water, with no friends and a strange house.
Let's ask Samantha Irby to introduce herself, with a passage from her new book, Wow, No Thank You: "I occasionally write jokes on the Internet for free because I'm the last person on Earth who still has a blog," she reads.
Sometimes I have freelance projects, but there's nothing right now. No one is going to pay me to write another book about nothing, for at least the next two years. Unfortunately, I don't have anything new or exciting to say online and absolutely zero paying scams. So my heart sinks as it dawns on me that I've gotten up and gotten dressed just to read what other people are saying on Twitter. This is the glamorous life of a writer.
Irby writes the Bitches Gotta Eat blog, and has several bestselling essay collections. Her work has been acclaimed for its bite, raunch and remarkable confession; she's been called a sidesplitting polemicist for the most awkward situations. She says she wants potential readers to know that "despite how maybe gross and offensive my work may seem on the surface, that it really is accessible for lots of different types of people. But like, don't be scared by what people say about it. Give it a try."
On moving to Kalamazoo, Mich.
Well, I moved here because my wife already lived here and I was really resistant because I hate change. But once you see what it costs to live in a town like Kalamazoo, it was pretty easy to make the choice, especially since I'm a writer and you know, that notoriously pays absolutely nothing. So in order to keep writing my jokes that don't pay very much. It was pretty much a no-brainer.
When I sat down to write an outline for what I wanted to do this time, I think every essay I thought of was a different way to complain about having moved, and not having any friends in the new place, and not knowing how to live in a house after having lived in apartments for most of my life. So I didn't set out to be a fish out of water, but I looked around and was like, wow, this this is it. I'm going to write about it now.
On describing herself as a high-functioning, depressed and anxious person, despite being charming on-air
You know, I can talk to you and be charming and have fun. And this is great. And then, like, I have to lie down and I will be anxious about every dumb thing I've said truly until it airs. So it's negative self-talk and inertia that is easy to hide from other people.
On when she'll stop writing
I mean, eventually there's going to be zero demand for my stuff. And the day that happens, that's it. I'm going to go bag groceries, or work at the gas station, or wherever will hire me. I'm very realistic about everything having a shelf life, especially when you are a writer who writes about herself. And when that day comes, I will happily close up shop — be like, we've had a good run essays. We're done. On to the next thing.
We gotta be realistic. Listen — ten years, I'll be 50. And are people really going to want to listen to a 50-year-old lady complaining about her swollen ankles? I don't know. If they are, I'll keep it up. You know, if they're like, oh, no, your time is done, then I will realistically accept that.
This story was edited for air by Will Jarvis and Hadeel Al-Shalchi, and adapted for the Web by Petra Mayer