cover image Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else

Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else

Maeve Higgins. Penguin Books, $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-14-313016-1

“Aside from getting champagne in your eye, or being snapped at by your pet toucan, bemoaning a lack of purpose is the most privileged problem in the known universe, so I won’t drone on about it,” writes comedian Higgins in the first essay of her wickedly funny collection. In the 14 pieces that follow, Higgins delivers on her promise to reach beyond the self while addressing such topics as Rent the Runway, a designer-clothes rental service, and the Muslim travel ban with incisive humor and deep humility. In her exceptional essay, “Pen as Gun,” about teaching a comedy workshop in Iraq, questions that begin with the self give rise to political and global considerations: “What if comedy, and creativity, these nebulous things I’ve devoted all these years to, are, in the grand scheme of things, unhelpful? Or even pointless?” While Higgins wisely steers clear of reducing insight to adage—“Comics taking themselves seriously have always made me laugh”—her commitment to wrestling openly and ethically with personhood and privilege suggests “that we are not alone, that we have this common language.” Higgins has the rare gift of being able to meaningfully engage with politics and social ills while remaining legitimately funny. [em](Aug.) [/em]