Thursday, April 21, 2016

I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales of a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman

(hb; 2013: nonfiction, humor)

From the back cover:

" 'You'll change your mind.' 

"That's what everyone says to Jen Kirkman—and countless women like her—when she confesses she doesn't plan to have children. But you know what? It's hard enough to be an adult. You have to dress yourself and pay bills and remember to buy birthday gifts. You have to drive and get annual physicals and tip for good service. Some adults take on the added burden of caring for a tiny human being with no language skills or bladder control. Parenthood can be very rewarding, but let's face it, so are margaritas at the adults-only pool.

"Jen's stand-up routine includes lots of jokes about not having kids (and some about masturbation and Johnny Depp), after which complete strangers constantly approach her and ask, "But who will take care of you when you're old?" (Servants!) Some insist, "You'd be such a great mom!" (Really? You know me so well!)

"Whether living rent-free in her childhood bedroom while trying to break into comedy (the best free birth control around, she says), or taking the stage at major clubs and joining a hit TV show—and along the way getting married, divorced, and attending excruciating afternoon birthday parties for her parent friends—Jen is completely happy and fulfilled by her decision not to procreate."



Review:

Barely is a smart, funny (in a dark-ish, underlying-serious way) book that entertains even as it, with Kirkman's well-articulated arguments and autobiographical bits, lists many of the reasons why she -- like many of us who decide not to have kids -- have made that decision. Her humor and points, sharp and not intended for children and the thin-skinned, are empathetic to those who are parents -- further showing Kirkman's humanity, even when she is making jokes and going against the stated grain.

This is a good read, worth owning for those inclined toward Kirkman's logic and wry, dark-ish sense of humor. If you like this book, you might want to check out her follow-up, I Know What I'm Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself.

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