cover image Quietly Hostile: Essays

Quietly Hostile: Essays

Samantha Irby. Vintage, $17 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-31569-9

Essayist Irby (Wow, No Thank You) shows off her wit, empathy, and self-deprecating humor in this animated collection. Across 17 essays, Irby contemplates the hysteria of the early days of the Covid pandemic, tells off snobs who dismiss her predilections for Justin Bieber and strip malls, and offers comedic accounts of every time she’s peed herself since reaching middle age. In “What If I Died Like Elvis,” she describes making jokes to hospital staff even as anaphylactic shock hampered her ability to breathe, leading her to the realization that she’s “a clown who is desperate to coax even a hint of a smile from the very serious people tasked with making sure she lives to honk her big red nose another day.” Reflecting on the entertainment she loves, she serves up appreciations for Dave Matthews’s love songs and outlines outrageous plot twists she would like to have seen on HBO’s Sex and the City. The most moving essay, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” meditates on the bonds of family as she recounts reuniting with her estranged half brother after the death of their father. Bouncing between irreverence and poignancy, this keeps the laughs coming while serving up intimate personal reflection and entertaining cultural commentary. Irby’s fans will be glad to find her in top form. (May)