The New York Times best-selling author and essayist Samantha Irby is admired for her conspiratorial, freewheeling frankness: Encountering one of her pieces, to me, is like hearing a crazy story from my smartest, most hilarious friend while we sit day-drinking on a couch in sweatpants. “I have a really embarrassing secret to tell you, but you have to promise me that you won’t ever tell anyone else,” Irby writes in one essay. “Pinkie swear? Okay, here goes: I am a grown-up and I still suck my stupid fucking thumb.”
Last week, Irby wrapped up a multi-week book tour celebrating the rerelease this month of Meaty, her debut collection of essays, which covers everything from the absurdities of dating etiquette to living with Crohn’s disease, which involves talking about bowel movements. Below, she spoke with the Cut about her IBS fan club, Twitter hashtags, and the stale Fritos she eats while writing late at night.
On the benefits of oversharing: “People are telling me stuff all the time and I love it. There really is freedom in the sharing. I want everyone to tell me everything. It helps to sort of tear down the mystery of how other people are surviving. We think, Everybody is doing better than I am. Everyone is happier. Everyone is not sweating in front of people, and everyone has their shit together. And that’s why as much as possible — even to the point of [people saying] like, ‘Okay, we get it’ — I just am like, ‘No, listen, I smell bad, I’m really sweaty, this dress I’m wearing, I had to spread across three different credit cards even though it wasn’t that expensive, you know? It’s worth saying that stuff. It makes people be like, ‘Okay, right. Yes, I’m okay. Because look, this idiot is going through the same thing.’”
A favorite book-tour moment: “This woman came to see me in New York and she’s part of an IBS support group. She and the other women in her group made it like a little field trip, and they all came — that was like the greatest thing ever. We’re so weird about poop, it feels almost like a confession when someone is like, ‘Hey, my poop is weird, too.’”
Don’t believe this Twitter hashtag: “I see pictures where people hashtag ‘#amwriting,’ which I don’t do because it would only be at two in the morning when I am crying! My genuine hope is their house or life really does look like that, but I feel like to counterbalance that, one of the things I love to post is how gross where I write is. People have this illusion that I just have a latte sitting next to me as I’m typing away, and really it’s like I’m eating a bag of Fritos I left open two days ago. They’re stale and I’m still eating them, and I’m wiping grease on my expensive laptop that still hasn’t been paid for. If I can ever be just grossly honest, hopefully that can balance out all the beauty. We can make good work and do good things and be people who are worthy of our jobs while also, like, not showering!”
On achieving success in her 20s: “There was a young woman who asked me, ‘What were you doing in your 20s that laid the foundation for what you’re doing now?’ And I was like, honestly, working and making tons of mistakes. I wouldn’t have known what to do with success at 23. I’m glad it happened later, when I can appreciate it.”