Competition published on June 10, 2016.
Guardian columnist Lindy West wasn’t always loud. It’s difficult to believe she was once a nerdy, terror-stricken teen who wanted nothing more than to be invisible. Fortunately for women everywhere, along the road she found her voice – and how she found it! That cripplingly shy girl who refused to make a sound, somehow grew up to be one of the loudest, shrillest, most fearless feminazis on the internet, making a living standing up for what’s right instead of what’s cool.
In Shrill, Lindy recounts how she went from being the butt of people’s jokes, to telling her own brand of jokes – ones that come with a serious message and aren’t at someone else’s expense. She reveals the obstacles and misogyny she’s had to overcome to make herself heard, in a society that doesn’t believe women (especially fat women and feminists) are or can be funny.
She also takes on some of the most burning issues of popular culture today, taking a frank and provocative look at racism, social injustice, fat-shaming, twitter-trolling and even rape culture, unpicking the bullshit and calling out unpalatable truths with conviction, intelligence and a large dose of her trademark black humour.
**We have a copy of Shrill to give away – scroll down for your chance to win!**
Our Real Readers had the chance to review Shrill prior to publication and this is what some of them made of it…
I doubt that this is a book I would have picked to read had not Real Readers sent me a copy to review but I am glad I have read it for it will stay with me for a long time. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much I was unable to continue reading. I can still chuckle to myself as I remember those phrases that made me laugh. Equally it’s been a while since a book made me think as much as this one has and I confess to shedding a tear or two for the aggressive ignorance of so many people who lack the courage to do anything but hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. I loathe the term ‘trolls’ to describe these people but an accurate description probably contravenes any censorship laws. (I had toy trolls when I was a kid, with long hair and kindly faces. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld trolls aren’t threatening at all. )
This book is an often uncomfortable read. It can be seen as one woman’ monologue, a diatribe against prejudice and injustice amongst other things but it is also an autobiography of honesty and humanity. It may upset some peoples’ sensibilities for it is frank. Labelled as a ‘feminist;’ book I think it can be appreciated on wider levels.
Lindy West is a brave, brave woman who should never be defined by her physicality but by her wit and her intellect and the way that, as a wordsmith, she can combine those two qualities.
– Gill Chedgey
I was sent this book pre-publication by Real Readers to review. I have to confess that before it plopped through the door I hadn’t heard of Lindy West. I don’t often read autobiographical books, I prefer fiction – but I was intrigued by the ‘blurb’ about a feminist, fat (and this is the word that Lindy prefers to use) writer. The book builds up to talking about more recent times in Lindy’s life where she consolidated her feminist beliefs and campaigned against the rape culture in standup comedy. She also wrote openly about fat shaming, periods and abortion – still very controversial subjects. As a result of speaking out both in interviews and online she was set upon by internet trolls who stalked her and sent her lots of horrific messages and threats.
The most interesting chapter of the book for me was the one where she contacted one of the worst trolls directly and challenged him about why he was abusing her. A conversation followed in which they discussed the reasons for his behaviour. Although they weren’t completely unexpected (overweight unattractive misogynist man abuses straight talking fat woman for being confident and outspoken) I thought she was so brave to approach him and tackle the issue head on. In a nutshell it’s not an easy read – Lindy has very strong views and I found her outspoken nature quite unsettling at times – but it taught me a thing or two about how it really is to be very overweight and be treated like a pariah by some sections of society.
– Luci Martin St Valery
I must confess that I didn’t know who Lindy West was before reading ‘Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman’ but after reading the book I have definitely got to know her! A large part of her book (no pun intended!) details her long-standing fight with how society treats fat people and she uses numerous personal examples to highlight her own treatment by others. Her book also echoes the writing of other famous women such as Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham as she too urges women to find their voice and their identity – “Women are told, from birth, that it’s our job to be small: physically small, small in our presence, and small in our impact on the world. We’re supposed to spend our lives passive, quiet, and hungry. With this book, I want to obliterate that expectation.”
The book also details some of the horrible online abuse Lindy received for commenting on issues such as rape culture, as well as the awful discovery of someone using her dead father’s details to troll her. Needless to say, it doesn’t make for pleasant reading and I can’t even begin to imagine how Lindy dealt with it. But dealt with it she did, and part of the outcome is surprising.
For me personally, not being familiar with the author, the latter part of the book which details her personal relationships are less interesting. However, if you’re a fan of Lindy West and her work, I think you’d enjoy reading the book. Moreover, I think many people will find the book inspiring and hopefully draw some strength/courage/conviction to realise that they don’t have to conform to society’s expectations.
– Judith Griffith
This is a frank account of life in the modern age as told by a woman. A woman who doesn’t fit societal norms because, and Lindy West uses and prefers this direct description, she is fat. Caitlin Moran and Lena Durham recommended it so that should give any potential reader a great idea of what lies in store: a unique, brash voice that won’t be silenced. And nor should she. West is funny, intelligent and beautifully unapologetic.
West writes about life as a shy girl who blossomed into a ‘loud’ woman. Thank God she did because it’s about time people started shouting above the malcontent generals who think the internet is theirs. Sharing details about the fat-shaming she’s received, the misogyny she’s encountered and the prolific attacks from trolls, West does not shy away from the details. The most memorable episode she reveals is when an online troll uses her dead father’s ID to attack her. She confronts the bully via an online article and is shocked when he emails her and apologises, realising he’s gone too far. It’s an encouraging story but you get the feeling that West clings to this because the rest of the sheer amount of abuse she does receive online. It’s shocking and she is brave – a woman you’d want on your side.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of online abuse, read this. If you haven’t, read this.
– Laura Roberts
I was quite surprised by this book, as it is not the sort of thing I would pick up normally, but intrigued, I dived into the first chapter after receiving it today in the post. And I didn’t stop reading! Lindy writes as she speaks, often with wry humour and brutal honesty.( ‘Shark Week’ is now going to be in my phrase book, having never heard of it before.)
She discusses a broad range of topics, growing up, periods, work, boyfriends (or lack thereof) and her forays into journalism and blogging and how social media trolled her for being fat, female and outspoken.
Some of what she has gone through should be shocking, but sadly, it is not, because we all know how online trolls can be and most of us have witnessed it. Some of it is even lauded.
I wasn’t initially thrilled with the title of the book, because the word, ‘Shrill’ has a bad connotation, but once I’d read the book, once I’d read what she’d gone through, I understood it completely. A great book and a must read for everyone.
– Nicolette Heaton-Harris
I disagreed with some of the opinions presented in the book and found myself shaking my head here and there, but that isn’t really a bad thing. A book like this is bound to generate discussion and debate, which I am sure West herself would welcome. My only real complaint would be that, in following her feminist angle so rigorously, West passes over other groups that might suffer similar problems, e.g. not all victims of ‘trolling’ are women and not all fat people are women. But this is a small gripe as writers are encouraged to write what they know and this is a personal, and therefore feminine, viewpoint.
I found the writing style very easy to read and very entertaining. There is a casual flow to the book that makes you feel as though you are listening to one of West’s stand-up performances. And I liked the footnoted ‘asides’ that brought added humour here and there (although this may not appeal to all readers). All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by ‘Shrill’ and while I won’t necessarily be trumpeting its feminist messages from the rooftops, I am glad it was sent to me and that I had the opportunity to read it.
About the author
Lindy West is a Seattle-based writer and performer whose work focuses on pop culture, feminism, social justice, humour and body image. Currently a weekly columnist at the Guardian and culture writer for GQ magazine, she was previously one of the most popular and prolific writers at feminist blog Jezebel.com. In January 2015 her exposure was magnified by a segment aired on US national radio in which she confronted an internet troll who’d impersonated her dead father. The podcast and ensuing article went viral and were shared more than 85,000 times worldwide, gaining Lindy countless new followers.
Follow Lindy on Twitter: @thelindywest
We have a copy of Shrill by Lindy West to give away – simply fill in the form below for your chance to win:
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Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West, published on 19 May, 2016 by Quercus in hardback at £16.99
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