Author and humorist Samantha Irby finds herself unexpectedly well-equipped to handle the novel coronavirus crisis. She can write in her adopted home of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her standard “uniform” is lounge-wear worthy: soft, forgiving tees and sweatshirts. Low-key anxiety keeps her in place and her brain busy; that simultaneous mix of paralysis and (maybe) productivity. Irby has also hit that rare sweet spot where an obsession becomes a handy survival tool; as a self-confessed “hand soap hoarder,” she covets and judges the soap when she visits other people’s bathrooms. (If you have followed Irby’s rise from “Bitches Gotta Eat” blogger to the best-selling author of Meaty and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, you know that Crohn’s disease means she spends a lot of time in bathrooms and literally talking shit.) In her own home, she stockpiles bottle after bottle of fragrant foam.
So now is her moment, even more so since she’s just released another book of humor essays entitled Wow, No Thank You (Vintage Books, $15). It’s vintage Irby: scatological, ribald, culturally trenchant overthink that might come from a girlfriend if you had one so smart. But it’s a book of adjustments: to living with a ready-made family, making friends as an adult, parting with her uterus, and coupled “lesbian bed death.” I interviewed Irby for Prism, and we talked about aging, her approach to personal hygiene, and reality TV. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.