Readers expecting fluffy hilarity from actress and comedian Slate’s first solo-authored adult book should adjust their dials ... amidst the heartbreak, Slate leaves room for all sorts of lightness and laughter ... This unconventional collection gives true insight into Slate as both an artist and a person, and will more than reward curious readers.
Judging from the content of Jenny Slate's Little Weirds, the inside of her mind is a fascinating, if unusual, place. In this collage of essays, stories, dreams (both night and day), and pieces that defy easy categorization, the actor and comedian invites readers to pay an extended visit, one that will leave them enlightened, moved and sometimes pleasantly puzzled ... Slate flashes her comedic gift often ... a refreshing, original journey.
All Slate's tone-setting puts a critic in a tough position. If I dislike Little Weirds, or find it in various ways wanting, am I no longer a friend to the world? Am I guilty of killing wild creatures? Or can I be a friendly, wild-creature-loving accepter of vulnerability and still wish that Little Weirds demonstrated more of the tonal range, irreverent wildness, and utter self-exposition that characterize Slate's stand-up? I do wish all of the above. Mostly, I wish that Little Weirds were weirder, and more intimate ... slides by smoothly and vaguely. Slate's essays tend toward the short, casual, and mildly silly, and her language strikes a balance between oddly flat statements and endearingly specific word choices enlivened by the occasional Seussian rhyme ... But Slate's rhymes and specificities disguise the fact that her essays' content is quite mainstream and sometimes fuzzy. She writes, without much detail, about the end of her marriage, her grief over Donald Trump's electoral victory, the joy she takes in family and friendship, her hopes for a bright romantic future, and her steps toward self-acceptance and self-love ... Because she shies away from it in Little Weirds, however, her essays often fall a bit flat ... is full of soft and lovely moments ... I prefer Slate in Stage Fright, in which she imitates skeletons, invites viewers into her grandmother's closet, and talks about sex in an alarming and hilarious baby voice. Those weirds are the right weirds for me.
Those familiar with Slate’s previous works will recognize her slightly askew perception and delightful way of reframing the familiar. Here she has full rein with language, and her style is less precise than fulsome, throwing lots of things at the wall and seeing what sticks. Her subject is her whole self but fragmented, in her words, 'a weird party for a woman who has returned from grief,' both vulnerable and moving, a party even non-partygoers might like to attend ... This volume mixes the oddball self-examination of Jenny Lawson with moments of poetic insight. Recommended for lovers of fizzy memoirs.
[Slate's] ability to paint a meticulous mental picture with nothing but words on a page can only be described as gifted ... At times the essays feel like sporadic streams of consciousness torn from random pages of Slate’s diary. At other times, the language is so flowery, you need to read it twice to remotely understand where Slate is going. What else would you expect from a woman who celebrates all the little weirds in her life?
... a joyful, rich riot of words and fresh images ... The individual pieces pelt us like soft rubber bullets in a shooting gallery, aimed at an ever-moving row of metal ducks when the carnival comes to town ... Every page in this collection of small pieces, even one-sentence chapters, gives us moments to pause and wrap ourselves in completely unexpected pleasures. Of course there is laughter --- eating roasted chickens with bare hands, and then talking to really smart dogs and snacking on potato chips in bed --- and there is some sadness. But, mostly, Little Weirds gives us snippets of life. Rubber bullet after rubber bullet.
To come to Little Weirds expecting a traditional memoir is to be disappointed, but it is also to find in Jenny Slate’s prose an elegant eccentricity using humor to mask, celebrate, amplify, excise, and heal a crippling emotional wound ... Slate has more than a touch of the literary about her, being a daughter of the contemporary literary poet Ron Slate, but her voice is so her own that her meditations on her thoughts and actions, insecurities and habits, move into a territory less whimsical and more ardently self-assured. It would be too easy to call Slate 'quirky' and doing so gives us no insight into the resonance she packs into her wholly unique if not bizarre metaphors to convey self-doubt, deep appreciation for her family, crippling depression, and heartbreak. She goes over these topics aware of the melodrama she is making of her vivid and real pain, but also certain that her personal narrative matters not just for her but for readers, too ... The most moving and entertaining parts of Little Weirds are Slate’s ruminations on her family ... There are very few passages in Little Weirds that aren’t completely unlike anything you’ve ever read. Slate explores her own psyche in a fascinating way, making readers willing voyeurs. Yet however outlandish or far-fetched her metaphor, elliptic her logic, or seemingly ostentatious her lamentations may seem, Slate always brings us back to a deep sentiment that moves us. Little Weirds is a work of creative nonfiction designed to have readers laughing through their tears while looking deeper into themselves and how they relate to others.
Jenny Slate’s writing is marked by a sweetness that brightens without overwhelming...a series of short essays, reflections, and meditations elevated by Slate’s affinity for language and remarkable imagery ... presents itself as inconsequential meditations, but it’s a better book than that. It’s a beautifully written, free-flowing meditation on the comforts and discomforts of being. The moments of ecstatic joy are original and deeply charming ... smart and unexpected and delightful.
... the oddness of this genre-defying book fits in nicely with the path [Slate] has set out for herself as a performer ... A collection that relies so heavily on whimsy shouldn’t be this effective, but the emotions in it are so raw that delving into her words creates an intimate connection to the work ... What does permeate these pages is a lot of heartbreak ... This isn’t a collection that aims for wide appeal, and therein lies both its strength and its weakness. If it weren’t for Slate’s truly admirable writing chops, made more exuberant with her knack for fanciful descriptors, it could easily run the risk of coming off as precious ... a strange read, an odd look into personal pain, but an engrossing one—what we get are no little insights but a big chunk of heart.
In an impossible-to-categorize adult debut, Slate meditates on topics profound and ephemeral with wonder and stark honesty. The unaffectedly whimsical, direct tone is established quickly ... Something of a personal narrative does emerge; she describes her childhood in hilarious pieces ... Slate offers an intimate window into not only her mind, but her heart. The result is a dazzling, sensory gift for poetry lovers and fans of Slate’s distinctly odd, but deeply charming humor.
The use of deconstructed language allows the author to move beyond the banal and replace it with something that more closely approximates her singular experience of being alive ... Underneath the gauzy, shimmering scaffolding, however, is an all-too-universal story about heartbreak, depression, and a failed marriage ... A uniquely talented writer and performer offers up an unexpectedly uncommon approach to autobiographical writing.