cover image Bad Vibes Only (and Other Things I Bring to the Table)

Bad Vibes Only (and Other Things I Bring to the Table)

Nora McInerny. Atria/One Signal, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-982186-71-5

McInerny (No Happy Endings), host of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, presents a humorous look at her life with essays aimed at “people who cannot help but put a little sprinkle of sadness on their happiest memories.” Self-described as anxious (“I was a child who lay in bed crying about pain I hadn’t yet experienced”), McInerny charts her search for authenticity, while meditating on everything from aging to mental health and parenthood. “Siri, Am I Losing My Mind?” reflects on memory loss and selfhood as McInerny contends with her aunt’s dementia, while “Privacy Settings” reckons with another loss—that of McInerny’s husband, who died from brain cancer at 35—and how social media gave the author an unexpected space to grieve and share the growth of their son: “Along with dopamine and validation, Instagram stepped into the role of witness for Ralph’s and my life.” There are welcome dashes of levity, too: “Strongest Girl in the World” recalls the joys of McInerny’s free-range childhood in the 1980s, and “Reunion” offers a raucous reflection on aging via a weed edible trip gone hilariously wrong. Occasionally, McInerny’s meditations can seem unfocused—“Unravel with Me,” a story about a past elementary school teacher, lives up to its name—but her wit, vulnerability, and self-deprecation make her an enjoyable companion. Despite the title, this is nothing but a good time. (Oct.)