Elle Rudy's Reviews > The Witches Are Coming

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West
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it was amazing
bookshelves: netgalley, 2019

“This is a witch hunt. We’re witches, and we’re hunting you.”

God, I missed Lindy West. I mean, she didn’t go anywhere and I read Shrill only two months ago and I still haven’t seen the show and she’s written pieces for a dozen or so other media outlets, but I still miiiiiiissed her!

While Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman was a lot of West’s own personal life, growth and realizations, The Witches Are Coming examines societal shifts more holistically and offers a ruthlessly necessary cultural critique. If her previous book was in part a crash course on the history of the internet up through the first half of 2016, we’re now taken on a trip through many generation-defining events that have taken place over the past three and a half years. The election of Donald Trump, Brexit, the #MeToo movement—these all have happened in the relatively short but also inexplicably long period since. In addressing not only these happenings, but the inevitable backlash to the backlash, Lindy West provides a thoughtful and well-reasoned examination of subjects that still are too discomfiting to bring up in some ‘polite company’. And she does it all with the same level of cutting humor that you’d come to expect from her work.

And, guys, it’s really really funny. I was cracking up over even the chapter titles. Come on, Ted Bundy Was Not Charming—Are You High? That’s fucking classic; I want it embroidered on a pillow or something. And she replicates one of my favorite parts of her last book, which was the reflective look at one the idols of her youth, Howard Stern. But instead of Stern this time, she devotes entire chapters to examining the legacies of comedy legends such as Adam Sandler and Joan Rivers. Even some of the chapter titles, like Is Adam Sandler Funny? , would be enough provocation to set off a pack of furious fanboys to defend his honor, but I beg you all to take the time to read what she’s written. These aren’t hit pieces; the conclusions she reaches are nuanced and even the criticisms aren’t really levied at the performer personally, but at the society that shaped as well as consumed them.

Even those who weren’t #blessed with their own chapter received credit where it was due. Ricky Gervais and Louis C.K.’s contributions to comedy aren’t merely tossed aside by a changing world, but they also aren’t immune to being challenged by it. One of the funniest chapters features Gwyneth Paltrow in all her Goopiness and it’s not mocking or glowing in the way we’ve come to expect towards her, but instead is refreshingly giddy and candid. West balances comic whimsy and difficult truths with the same level of deftness as Mary Poppins, disguising the bitterness of medicine with a spoonful of sugar. It really does make it all easier to swallow.

Most chapters feature a story from West’s own life, either a hilarious anecdote or a moment of frustration, that is used as a segue into a topic of importance for her. A few are really Trojan Horses that don’t reveal their true nature until further into the piece, but some are upfront about the content for good reason. In What Is an Abortion, Anyway? she discusses not just her own real abortion, but her fictional one as well. Her insistence to include Shrill’s main character, Annie’s, abortion in the pilot was the same determination that birthed the #ShoutYourAbortion movement online. While not as satirical as the other essays, it’s just as sharp and truly beneficial to anyone who considers themselves pro-choice.

Real talk, I was so giggly while reading this. My Kindle copy is so full of highlighted passages that if I had done the same thing to a physical copy it would be like 65% highlighter. Her self-awareness makes her so endearing and her biting wit is funny as hell—I just thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this book. The end left me optimistic and with a sense of pending accomplishment, which, yeah, is probably unearned at this stage, but with a clear path forward. I don’t know what else to say; Lindy West left me feeling happy and gave me some hope.

*Thanks to Hachette Books & Netgalley for an advance copy!
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Reading Progress

August 12, 2019 – Shelved
August 12, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
August 12, 2019 – Shelved as: netgalley
September 20, 2019 – Started Reading
September 21, 2019 –
page 133
September 24, 2019 – Finished Reading
November 16, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019

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