Published by: Quercus (19th May 2016)
Source: Real Readers
Guardian columnist Lindy West wasn't always loud. It's difficult to believe she was once a nerdy, terror-stricken teen who wanted nothing more than to be invisible. Fortunately for women everywhere, along the road she found her voice - and how she found it! That cripplingly shy girl, who refused to make a sound, grew up to be one of the loudest, shrillest, most fearless feminazis on the internet, making a living speaking up for what's right instead of what's 'cool'.
In Shrill, Lindy recounts how she went from being the butt of people's jokes, to telling her own brand of jokes - ones that come with a meaningful agenda and aren't at someone else's expense. She reveals the obstacles and misogyny she's had to overcome to make herself heard, in a society that doesn't believe women (especially fat women and feminists) can ever be funny.
A catalyst for conversation, West also addresses some of the most burning issues of popular culture today, taking a frank and provocative look at social injustice, racism, fat-shaming, twitter-trolling and even rape culture, unpicking the bullshit and calling out unpalatable truths with conviction, intelligence and a large dose of her trademark black humour.
I must admit that, prior to receiving a review copy of this book, I hadn't heard of the author. I do enjoy the cruder and darker edge of comedy and have previously read and enjoyed several autobiographies, so, in principle at least, Shrill seemed to be a good fit.
I'm not a staunch feminist, but I understand why Lindy wrote about the subjects she did. As a stand-up comedian, she'd have been used to standing up for herself when getting heckled, and the subjects are those that a woman may discuss with friends. I quite enjoyed this part of the book and found it quite amusing.
Being a larger lady myself, I understand why Lindy wanted to quit pussy-footing around and embrace the word 'fat'. After all, there are so many other words to use instead, and it's much simpler to say it like it is. Towards the end of the book, Lindy takes on an internet troll and wins. No doubt the sort of people that find pleasure in making other people miserable are a special kind of fucked up, but I couldn't seem to get incensed, no matter how nasty the trolls behaviour.
I really wanted to love this book, but I'm disappointed to say that I found it rather lukewarm. Thanks to Quercus and Real Readers for providing a review copy in exchange for my honest review.