Shrill: Lindy West's New Book is Helping Me Find My Voice
I didn't want to like this book.
Maybe it's professional jealousy, or a snobby disregard for online media (Lindy West used to be a staff writer for Jezebel), or likely a combination of the two.
"She's a good writer," that mean girl in my head sniped as I listened to the audio version of Lindy West's new book, Shrill, "but her work will never withstand the test of time. Those pop culture references will sound dated in ten years and indecipherable in twenty."
By the time I'd gotten half an hour in, Lindy had completely won me over.
She's a great narrator, for starters. Listening to Shrill sounds like a conversation with a close friend. And she's hysterically funny. I could hear the barely-suppressed laughter in her voice when she read an irreverent press release she wrote for the band Spoon, and I nearly doubled over with laughter of my own.
This humor makes Lindy's writing completely accessible, even when she's covering tough topics like body acceptance and rape culture. She made me understand their cultural nuances in a way I hadn't before. She also motivated me to push my own writing in a bolder and better direction.
"Women ask me: 'How did you find your voice? How can I find mine?' and I desperately want to help, but the truth is, I don't know. I used to hate myself; eventually, I didn't anymore. I used to be shy; eventually, I made my living by talking too much. Every human being is a wet, gassy katamari of triumphs, traumas, scars, coping mechanisms, parental baggage, weird stuff you saw on the Internet too young, pressure from your grandma to take over the bodega when what you really want to do is dance, and all the other fertilizer that makes a smear of DNA grow into a fully formed toxic avenger."
Shrill is one of those rare books that fell into my life at exactly the right moment.
It's changed how I see the world and my role in it. And it's not just changing me. Lindy's insightful essays, in Shrill and elsewhere, are shifting the way we talk about our bodies and misogyny and a whole host of other important topics.
Hopefully it will sound dated in ten years, and indecipherable in twenty. What a wonderful sign that would be of how far we've all come.