Reviews for I'll Show Myself Out

by Jessi Klein

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

What's so funny about parenting a small boy through the vicissitudes of aging, social media, the pandemic, and toddler risotto? In 22 clever, readable, and whimsically footnoted essays, Klein, an actor and executive producer for Inside Amy Schumer, continues the trajectory of her successful debut, You'll Grow Out of It. In the opening essay, after admitting to being possibly the last person in the civilized world to get wind of Joseph Campbell's mythic "hero's journey," she was possessed by the notion that her trip to the store to pick up teething biscuits was part of a meaningful narrative—complete with a "call to adventure," "unimaginable torment," "superhuman deeds," and a "strangely fluid and polymorphous being” (“my baby”). It takes a certain kind of mind to get this much out of a box of Nom-Noms, and Klein's comedic talent often involves an element of quasi-philosophical unspooling of mundane challenges and passages, often with a certain amount of profanity and all-caps exclamations. In the essay titled "On the Starbucks Bathroom Floor," she describes her struggles with her child’s potty training; in "Listening to Beyoncé in the Parking Lot of Party City," it’s balloons and birthdays; in “Your Husband Will Remarry Five Minutes After You Die," it’s brutal marital realism. "In Defense of Drinking" takes a tough stand on the mommy juice controversy: “I am a better mother because I drink." In "Demon Halloween," Klein confesses failure in the homemade costume department. Sometimes she puts joking aside and gets to the heart of things. "Somewhere between the optimism of pure faith and the letting go of pure Zen lies, I suppose, good parenting….Our children need us, at bare minimum, to not be nihilists, right? We have to believe in something,” she writes. The author clearly believes in family, love, laughter, and a well-placed Xanax—and she's pretty convincing. Frank, free-spirited sass for the modern mother's soul. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Comedy writer Klein (You'll Grow Out of It, 2016) expects the haters to come for her when she says tequila makes her a better mom. It's perhaps more likely that admissions like this one will make her a friend to readers of her second essay collection. After revealing her fear of writing about being a mom, Klein reclaims Joseph Campbell's hero's journey as a loose frame for the book. In motherhood, the hero's journey is "not a journey outward, to the most fantastic and farthest-flung places, but inward, downward, to the deepest parts of your strength." Klein writes about mothering her son—potty training him, playing boring games with him, watching "his" (her) pet caterpillar turn into a butterfly—as well as personal stuff like hair loss, body image, marital discord, and missing who she was before she became a mom. Klein isn't here to make motherhood look pretty, but she ends up making it look pretty great in the truest sense of the word, mixing laughs with poignancy and treating heavy topics with a brightening kind of honesty.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Comedian Klein (You’ll Grow Out of It) takes a moving look at motherhood in this bold and irreverent collection. The 22 essays offer a refreshing take on parenthood, mixing brutal honesty, candid emotion, and humor. “Mom Clothes” considers the author’s experience hanging on to baby weight post-labor and “the sheer unending exhaustion” of motherhood, while “The Car Seat” is a heartfelt take on the author’s frustration with car seats, and the loss of self as she sees “Baby on Board” car stickers and wonders why she can’t have one that simply reads “Me on Board.” “Bread and Cheese” is an ode to the insanity of picky eaters: “Of all the childhood behaviors that trigger me... Asher’s refusal to eat is the one that makes me most want to tantrum myself.” “In Defense of Drinking” is a response to anti “Mommy Drinking” sentiment, in which she labels alcohol an “ongoing epidural.” Klein is full of surprises, and moments of hilarity often dissolve into unexpected glimpses of joy: her reminder that “being a parent is a lot like having a dream.... Most of it, even when it’s ugly, is beautiful,” for example, lands with grace. Funny, clever, and full of heart, this one’s a gem. Agent: David Kuhn, Aevitas Creative Management. (Apr.)