Jenny Slate is most recognizable as a comedic actress with a truly unique energy. She appeared as the klepto-crazy Mona-Lisa Saperstein on Parks and Recreation, starred in the fabulous film Obvious Child, and serves as the voice to countless animated characters. She is also a writer, and she’s quite a good one.
Slate’s new book, Little Weirds, is hard to classify. Is it a memoir? It’s a bit too vaguely written to be part of that genre. An autobiography? Even less so! Little Weirds is more of a window into Slate’s brain, a snapshot of what’s happening inside her heart at the moment she wrote out each sentence.
Little Weirds is injected with humor, as one would expect from a comedian, but it’s quite a bit less traditionally “funny” than I had expected. Slate relies heavily on alliteration and fantastical imagery in her book. There’s an almost Snow White-like quality to her writing, where a deer prances about after working as a secretary all day, a rabbit emerges from the woods in search of friendship, and horses play instruments. Dreams are as real as the device you’re reading this on, and treats are the absolute best thing about being an alive person.
Jenny opens up about her stage fright, the intense loneliness she’s experienced after a divorce, and the ghosts living in her parents house. She writes about feminism and about the election of Donald Trump, which, frankly, I could have done without (I need a break from it, honestly). She writes primarily about her feelings, though her writing doesn’t get into enough detail to give the reader an understanding of what is actually happening, which can make the whole thing feel a bit journal-like.
Jenny Slate is, at her core, a nostalgic, a romantic. She writes beautifully, of “pummeling heartbreak,” of being broken and vulnerable, of experiencing pleasure and pain, the beauty in female friendship, the simple joy found in eating a sardine sandwich. The details she includes are heartfelt, and aren’t visible to the reader. I did come away from the book with a few lessons, the most important of which is to appreciate the little things, like being able to write this column, having a glass of wine, and going to bed early. Little Weirds is, frankly, certainly weird, but if you're a fan of Slate's, it's an interesting peek into her fascinating brain.
P.S. Our February book club read is The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg. I’m excited to dig in and hope you’ll read along with us!