The cat pictured on the cover may or may not be Helen Keller, the creature Irby is in a hate-hate relationship throughout most of the story told by blog posts-turned-book essays. I don't (yet) read Irby's blog, so maybe I'm not even right that the content is blog derived, and it doesn't matter anyway. I'm just looking at the blog now. It's on blogspot! She uses colored text for emphasis or typography! She thinks art is boring! You should know that I'm already reading Meaty, Irby's first book. Reading the second book first was an accident.
Anyway, Irby had a rough childhood--abuse, poverty, deaths, and disabilities. She emerges brilliant and hilarious, but maybe without a college degree (despite phenomenal standardized test scores) or the ability to desire and consume healthy food. Still, by the time we meet her not in real life, she's in a healthy adult relationship with another human. Relations with Helen remain problematic.
She had me before page 1:
This book is dedicated to Klonopin.
And again when she introduces cat Helen Keller (named by the techs at veterinary hospital where Irby works), simultaneously introducing us to her personal moral code.
She is a pig demon from hell, sent to my life as payback for all the vicious thought-crimes I have committed against people who listen to music on the bus without headphones. People who keep loose change in their pockets. People who host sit-down dinner parties in their young, marginally-successful-person apartments.
Yes to all of that, except pocket change doesn't tweak me quite as much. I just don't get why people are so casual with their cash that it falls on the bed, floor, and couch cushions all the time. Not that I know anyone like that at all. Nor with any of Irby's other money management issues.
I grew up poor and now I have money, so I'm going to spend it on Chanel nail polishes. I don't know how you can possibly have joy in your life when you do shit like "balance your check book" or "pay your minimum balance on time," and if doing those awful-sounding things means I can't see four movies in one weekend, then I don't ever want to do them. I can't go to the library. I mean, first of all, what if someone else checked out the book I want? I'm not the only one reading the book reviews in the Times, so now I gotta put my name on a list after your aunt Karen and my elementary school principal, then just, like, wait for them to be finishes? I would rather be dead.
Okay, I can't relate to her financially at all. I grew up middle class terrified of becoming poor because my parents lived beyond their means. And I love waiting for a library book and being surprised when it comes in. Books keep!
In college (she went, she just didn't finish) Irby discovers that though she doesn't like men ("I fucking hate men") she likes their lifestyle.
I liked watching wrestling and would never mind going in on the delicious party sampler to eat in front of Monday Night Football. (Hot wings! Onion rings! Egg rolls! Pizza bites! Corn dogs! Jumbo mozzarella sticks! Heart disease!)
As it turns out, she may not fucking hate men, but she does end up fucking loving a woman. She's not sure at first how to be a lesbian, though.
I tried to think of the worst things boyfriends past had done in bed with me and actively tried to avoid doing any of that. I peeled off my socks (I hate when dudes wear socks in bed) and asked Mavis if there were any feelings she wanted to talk about before we got started. "Has anyone in the patriarchy oppressed you lately?"
LOL. She goes on to talk about The Sex, which I think is awesome and probably quite helpful for any first-time sex between people who sit down to pee. Contrary to the book's title and eponymous essay, Irby met Mavis, who started as a Twitter follower in real life, and it seems to have gone very well. :)
Random funny thing:
I want to finally own a car with power windows that doesn't have a fucking tape deck.
Then there's a bunch about the pros and cons of living in the suburbs, including Helen's take on it,
"I hate it here," Helen announced, peeking out the window at a girl jumping rope next door. "Take me back to the place where I know I can get good ribs."
But Helen eventually get into it, peeing on the welcome mat, eating the other cat's food, enjoying sunbeams, and barking at birds outside her window. Helen is a scathing Greek chorus throughout, embodying all of Irby's anxiety, self-hatred, and longing for a sweet life. Read the book to find out how things work out for them.