I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Shrill by Lindy West
Published by Hachette Books on May 17th 2016
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Humor, Form, Essays, Social Science, Feminism & Feminist Theory
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Hailed by Lena Dunham as an "essential (and hilarious) voice for women," Lindy West is ferociously witty and outspoken, tackling topics as varied as pop culture, social justice and body image. Her empowering work has garnered a coast-to-coast audience that eagerly awaits SHRILL, her highly-anticipated literary debut.
West has rocked readers in work published everywhere from The Guardian to GQ to This American Life. She is a catalyst for a national conversation in a world where not all stories are created equal and not every body is treated with equal respect. SHRILL is comprised of a series of essays that bravely shares her life, including her transition from quiet to feminist-out-loud, coming of age in a popular culture that is hostile to women (especially fat, funny women) and how keeping quiet is not an option for any of us.
Shrill: Women Are Funny, It’s Okay to Be Fat, and Feminists Don’t Have to Be Nice by Lindy West is a book that I did not even know I wanted to read until I had the option to read it. I’ve been a fan of West’s writing since she was a writer for Jezebel, a site that I follow with a bit of religious fervor. However, I had no idea that Lindy West was coming out with a book. Straight up this was one of the best surprises I’ve had in a long time. I devoured Shrill with as much enthusiasm as with West’s articles. While some of the material tread in the book is familiar, there’s a lot of new stuff here too and some behind the scenes bits as well.
Shrill is the second memoir I’ve read, or well sort of memoir – with different essays around different topics within the author’s life, in a row. I guess I am on a bit of a kick with them now. Anyways, so Shrill is a book of Lindy West’s experiences with internet trolls, how she stopped being so shy, feminism, airplane seats, love, fat acceptance and much more. If you have not read a lot of feminist books, Shrill is such a superb introduction. I mean, it is not like a textbook or anything remotely like that, just a book with a strong feminist bent and I LOVED IT.
I love how West engages with feminism in her writing. I love how she is such a straight shooter and how this book really lacks bull. She calls things as she sees them. As a woman, this means that trolls tend to flock to Lindy and say really horrific things to her. She writes about how after feeling fed up with the acceptance of rape jokes in comedy, she responds with an excellent essay on Jezebel and ends up drawing the ire of male comedians and their fans. She then receives heaps of abuse via twitter and email, among other things. I remember reading that essay when it first came out and just nodding my head as I read it because it so accurately put into words things that I was feeling. At the time, I was working as a prevention educator for a intimate partner violence victims program. So, of course I loved her essay because I was immersed in that field. There’s plenty more examples of her feminism and of her standing strong and up to everyday misogyny that I’ve not written about, but for real, read Shrill.
Hand in hand with the feminism that characterizes West’s writing is the fat acceptance movement. She writes about being fat, about how she is dehumanized because of it, and also learning to love and accept her body due to stumbling upon the movement via Tumblr and seeing all kinds of fat women via photo, thus normalizing it. She talks about working with Dan Savage who had an obesity crisis obsession and wrote some awful things about fat people, and how she really took him to task for that and how eventually he came around. I thought this was really eye opening – there’s a lot I do not know about fat acceptance and I rarely read books about fat people except for Dumplin’ and well, I want more.
Readers who want to increase their exposure to feminist writing — especially a feminist writer who professes to love reading fantasy and who grew up reading young adult books and even gives Tamora Pierce audiobooks a shoutout in the acknowledgements– should live their best lives and treat themselves with Lindy West’s Shrill. Chances are, you’ll find something you can connect with and relate to with this book. I’m in awe of West after reading this book, at how her speaking out really has generated actual change.
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