cover image Little Weirds

Little Weirds

Jenny Slate. Little, Brown, $27 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-48535-7

In an impossible-to-categorize adult debut, actor and comedian Slate (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, coauthor) meditates on topics profound and ephemeral with wonder and stark honesty. The unaffectedly whimsical, direct tone is established quickly, with the opening piece’s assertion that “I am actually a homemade Parisian Croissant,” followed by the dictate, “Pair me with jam. Treasure me for my layers and layers of fragility and richness.” Something of a personal narrative does emerge; she describes her childhood in hilarious pieces such as “Fast Bad Baby,” about the troubles she inflicted on her mother by being “so rowdy and speedy.” She ruminates on growing up in a haunted house in Massachusetts, and on leaving it knowing the ghost of her former self would always live there. She admits to debilitating self-doubt (and explains how she moved past it) and celebrates female friendships and self-care. The most moving piece, “I Died: Bronze Tree,” the only work of (overt) fiction, unfolds from the perspective of a recently deceased old woman, whose death follows shortly after her husband’s. Here, and elsewhere, Slate offers an intimate window into not only her mind, but her heart. The result is a dazzling, sensory gift for poetry lovers and fans of Slate’s distinctly odd, but deeply charming humor. Agent: Claudia Ballard, William Morris Endeavor. (Nov.)