In Little Weirds, Jenny Slate presents to us the hidden world inside her mind, granting us a glimpse at the achingly beautiful details and anecdotes of her everyday life, heartbreaks, distant memories, and moments of weakness. I have never read a book quite like this, so I feel grateful to have the chance to wander into such an introspective psyche like Jenny’s, especially during a time in which I feel her observances, ponderings, and pain resonate with me to a point where I almost feel like they could be my own.
If you know of Jenny Slate, you may be wondering, “Are we thinking of the same person?”. The answer is yes, but I understand the confusion. Jenny Slate is a comedian and actress whose material is, for the majority, silly and eccentric. She is best known for her roles of Mona Lisa Saperstein in “Parks and Recreation,” Missy in “Big Mouth,” and her Netflix stand-up comedy special, “Stage Fright” – all of which portray Jenny Slate in a similar fashion: hilariously zany. This is why fans love Jenny Slate: she is lighthearted, fun, and seemingly has no filter in her material. Though these traits carry out into Little Weirds, readers get to see a side of Jenny Slate that is seldom presented, perhaps because it is not as inherently attention-grabbing, but possibly because not everyone will take to it naturally. This book takes time and care to decipher, which I understand is not something that some are willing to do while reading a book for leisure, but, for the willing, it is worth it.
Little Weirds is a collection of short essays, all written in a poetic and almost lyrical style – again, this is not what you’d expect from Jenny Slate, or really any comedian-author. We have seen the common comedian memoir structure time and time again: portions on their awkwardness in adolescence, finding themselves in college (usually involving anecdotes about first experiences, drugs/alcohol, and dating), getting into their comedy career, and current day happenings in Hollywood. This structure can be great, don’t get me wrong, but Jenny brings something much more daring and raw to the table. She references her childhood, dating, and her career, but in ways which are woven into pieces that hold their own without having to be carried by the recognition of her fame or success. If you replaced “Jenny Slate” on the cover with any unknown author, the book would be just as good, because her writing does not feed off of her name in order to be of interest.
Jenny Slate has a way with words that I simply adore; she can write pages upon pages about topics or moments that seem so minut, yet make them into things that matter – things you want to cherish, no matter how small. The essays do not all fall into just one category, there are some non-fiction memoir pieces, some letters written by Jenny to Jenny, and some metaphorical (or straight up whimsical) pieces that hold a sense of child-like wonder that is rare to find in an adult book. Something that I find so brilliant is her ability to write a piece that makes me chuckle throughout, thanks to her odd-yet-endearing way of describing everyday moments, but then feel absolutely heartbroken at certain lines of the same essay. Her writing shows the duality of her being so genuine. She’s an optimist, silly, sometimes vulgar, and young at heart, but goes through very real and painful experiences, just like the rest of us do, and is able to depict these experiences and feelings so accurately.
This book made me cry many times… and I don’t usually cry during books or movies. (I promise I have a heart, I promise!). I have just never read a book that has resonated so deeply with me in almost every way. Sure, I have not been through the exact same experiences that Jenny has, but the feelings that have festered inside her all her life are feelings that are ever so common in me and I’m sure are common in many people, for that matter.
I had a thought halfway through the book that I felt as though Jenny Slate had somehow found a way to reach way back into the burrows of my brain and pull out all the emotions and memories that never made sense to me, but unjumbled them on the page with such persistent clarity that it opened my eyes completely. She writes about topics nobody really wants to delve into, because they hurt to think about, but does so in a way that is so colorful, comforting, and full of life. It’s nearly impossible to encompass the book a whole, but one line that I believe shows the tone is this: “As the image of myself becomes sharper in my brain and more precious, I feel less afraid that someone will erase me by denying me love,” (85). Frankly, I want to frame this and hang it up on my wall. This is the kind of quote that makes the title of this article make sense, as it touches your soul, making you realize that you have the power to pick up broken pieces within yourself and become someone who matters to you. Not to mention that there are countless quotes just like it, teaching lessons of resilience, strength, gentleness, love, and genuinity. Little Weirds is smart, witty, powerful, and made of little bits of magic that I will hold close to my heart for years to come.