Shrill – A book that’s smart, loud, but a bit too ranty 

Shrill Lindy West

Lindy West writes without a filter, so if you have a delicate constitution, then this book will not be for you. If you are a smart woman, a funny woman, and a bit of a feminist who isn’t afraid of a big bunch of swears, then you will devour these ‘notes from a loud woman’.

Lindy is a writer heavily immersed in the stand-up comedy world and here in these 260 pages, she shares (often overshares) some difficult teen years, what its like to be a fat woman, what it’s like to try and make it in a male dominated industry, and how she came to love herself and be loved and adored by her husband.

The first half of this book I really loved. It was funny, with smart observations and a no holds barred view of growing up an awkward, large, teenager and how she came to be happy being ‘big’ in all senses of the word, rather than try and hide away and be ‘unseen’. Some moments are quite touching and you get the odd rare glimpse of softness and vulnerability.

Shrill - Lindy West
Author – Lindy West

The second half gets a bit ranty, and I felt the same lines were flogged to death a bit and if i’m honest, I skipped a few pages. I’m not anti-fat, I want that to be clear here. I winced at a few stories of Lindy and how she is seen in reality, as well as in her own mind when people look and judge; a part of her life I just can’t relate to.  I choose to look after myself and keep relatively fit, but I still have a muffin top and enjoy a sneaky Macca’s  after far too many wines to be deemed sensible on a Friday night; but, I just thought ‘Lindy, we get it! It can’t be good for the soul to be so angry all the time!’

There were some really great parts in the book though, it wasn’t all anger. The most interesting and insightful parts of Shrill were her overwhelming abuse from online trolls, the vitriol they hurl and hurt they can cause; the maniac ways they behave and why. The stand up comedy scene also sounds like a real vipers nest.

This book will polarise people, and that is Lindys point.  She isn’t afraid to be exactly who she wants to be, no matter what people think.  Lindy West is a braver woman than I.

3 out of 5 stars

Buy Shrill From 17 May – Published by Hachette

The Book Jacket

A laugh-out-loud feminist memoir from one of the boldest new voices on the web.
‘Lindy West is an essential (and hilarious) voice for women. Her talent and bravery have made the Internet a place I actually want to be.’ Lena Dunham

‘For me, Lindy West is part of the Lady Mount Rushmore that includes Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman and Amy Poehler.’ Caitlin Moran

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.