Funny Women

Right now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the advice that I am getting over and over is to "stay home" and "calm the f&*k down." First one: Done. Second one: I would if I knew how.

nowowI did receive a message from the doctor; she said it was important to be kind and tell jokes. And that made me think of Jenny Lawson, author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened (Berkley, $16) and Furiously Happy(Flatiron, $17.99). Lawson has the ability to convey the surprisingly absurd situations of daily life with a wry tone as she makes her way through chronic pain and mental illness. She shocked me into laughing out loud more than once, and I thought, "Wow, did she really do that? Did she really say that?"

And that made me think of Wow, No Thank You (Vintage, $15.95), Samantha Irby's third book of essays. Irby pretty much vomits her negative thoughts, observations and judgments onto the page in an acerbic, matter-of-fact tone using language straight from what my elders would call "the gutter." As someone who pretty much funds the swear jar at work, I laughed through page after page until tears ran down my face. Irby's truth-telling about chronic pain, compulsive eating, relationships and bowel issues actually gave me an asthma attack. She is that good. 

Right up the alley of anyone who has read the other two titles is Liz Astrof's Don't Wait Up: Notes from a Stay-at-Work Mom (Gallery, $27). Astrof is heart-wrenchingly funny about a dysfunctional childhood. She is also horrifically honest about raising children despite having no discernable parenting skills. I laughed, I cried, and can't believe these writers had the guts to put their true thoughts and feelings on the page. This is just what I need right now. --Lisa Von Drasek, curator, University of Minnesota Libraries