“Little Weirds” (2019) by Jenny Slate is a journey. I struggled for a while trying to write this, to describe a book so weird yet so enjoyable. And I’m still not sure you’ll understand. Maybe you won’t until you pick it up yourself, which this hopefully gives you a push to do.
Slate is a comedian and actress from Milton, Mass. She was in “Zootopia” (2016) and “Big Mouth” (2017–), as well as a co-creator of the “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” YouTube series (2010–14) and books. I have never had any real experience with Slate before, but her voice is so infused into her words that readers sit back and watch as intimacy grows between you both.
She starts her book by saying, “This book is the act of pressing onward through an inner world that was dark and dismantled. This book is me putting myself back together so that I can dwell happily in our shared outer world” (page 9). Her own heartbreak and emotional distress and her larger heartbreak for the country after President Trump’s election drove her to this place that she had to work back up from through reflection and prose.
And then she invites you into her world, to see through her eyes and experience her journey to revival with her. She lets pain bubble through beauty. Each sentence is filled with charming prose, with imagination and delight. Slate is completely and utterly vulnerable to you from the moment you pick up “Little Weirds.” This vulnerability is what allows you to heal with her. As she heals through her art, you let yourself be vulnerable to your own mind and parts of you join her in her artistic therapy.
“Little Weirds” is entertaining in an unconventional way. It doesn’t follow a standard narrative structure that a lot of memoirs have. Her writing is like random neurons firing in an honest, hilarious and relatable way. She uses innovative images to describe her emotions and desires from her childhood through different elements of her life. I wish I could use words like she does, with such creativity, ease and hilarity. She goes through her story, struggles with love, heartbreak and confusion, giving you peeks into every inner facet of herself.
At the end of her introduction, Slate gives the most striking invitation to her book that I can’t help but share with you all:
“You have my permission to come into this space that is made out of broken-up pieces, of shards and perfect circles, slats and slices. It represents the space that I have found to house my spirit, which is from the universe. I was born to host this party. To be in the party, remind you of the party, live at the event, die at the event” (page 11).
And from that moment on page 11 I couldn’t leave her party if I tried. Within a world with so much hurt, sharing pain and healing is simply so important. Slate does it in a fresh and masterful way that leaves you comforted and entertained, almost forgetting the inner therapy she gifted you along the way.