Little Weirds

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To come to Little Weirds expecting a traditional memoir is to be disappointed, but it is also to find in Jenny Slate’s prose an elegant eccentricity using humor to mask, celebrate, amplify, excise, and heal a crippling emotional wound.

Slate has more than a touch of the literary about her, being a daughter of the contemporary literary poet Ron Slate, but her voice is so her own that her meditations on her thoughts and actions, insecurities and habits, move into a territory less whimsical and more ardently self-assured. It would be too easy to call Slate “quirky” and doing so gives us no insight into the resonance she packs into her wholly unique if not bizarre metaphors to convey self-doubt, deep appreciation for her family, crippling depression, and heartbreak. She goes over these topics aware of the melodrama she is making of her vivid and real pain, but also certain that her personal narrative matters not just for her but for readers, too.

And she’s right. When we read about the home where she grew up, Slate grounds us so deeply in an understanding of place that it is as though we are possessed in the reading. Then she makes some self-deprecating jokes, humor at her expense, to relieve us of the heavy weight we’ve taken on. The most moving and entertaining parts of Little Weirds are Slate’s ruminations on her family. When she talks about her mother, she is speaking in a tone of admiration, friendship, and such deep tenderness it is near impossible for us to imagine Slate could ever feel such crippling self-doubt or contempt. This is the point, of course. As we read, Slate relates to us all the ways she ought not to be feeling the way she does. But then, she breaks out of this because she underwent it to embrace self-care, to celebrate friendships, and to show how her devotion to her craft can be a model for others.

There are very few passages in Little Weirds that aren’t completely unlike anything you’ve ever read. Slate explores her own psyche in a fascinating way, making readers willing voyeurs. Yet however outlandish or far-fetched her metaphor, elliptic her logic, or seemingly ostentatious her lamentations may seem, Slate always brings us back to a deep sentiment that moves us. Little Weirds is a work of creative nonfiction designed to have readers laughing through their tears while looking deeper into themselves and how they relate to others.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date 2019-11-05
ISBN 9780316485340 Buy this Book
Issue November 2019
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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