Wednesday, July 07, 2021

People Are Unappealing: Even Me by Sara Barron

Some books get better when you leave them on the shelf for a while before you read them. Or if it takes a few years to find them in the first place.

Some books, though, are ephemeral and best gotten to quickly. People Are Unappealing* Even Me is a book that was published in 2009, which I didn't buy until 2018, and didn't read until just last month. Sara Barron is an appealing, funny memoirist, but it's an inherently small book, and it's not improved by waiting a decade-plus to read it, and having the world shift under its jokes.

Barron is, I think, somewhere in that borderland between a funny memoirist (in the David Sedaris mode) and a stand-up comedian. This was her first book, collecting a group of pieces that add up to "who I am and how I got here." She was still in her mid-twenties and "here" was working retail and restaurants for close to minimum wage in NYC, so it was mostly funny stories of her childhood, college days, and short post-college life.

The stories tend to be bawdy, to use a roughly true but totally tonally inappropriate word. There's a bunch of sex stuff, including a cringingly horrible "porno" young Barron wrote, and some dalliances with men who turn out to be gay. There's also encounters with horrible human beings, both a famous customer of the celebrity-chef restaurant where she worked and some retail co-workers. The title sums it up pretty well, actually.

Again, this is funny, and was fresh and crisp in 2009. Barron has done other things since, which are probably equally fresh and crisp for their time. She's a funny writer; I'm sure she'll have a long career doing stuff like this. And I did like this book; it just made me feel that 2009 was a million years ago.

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