Off Script: ‘Little Weirds’ by Jenny Slate Review

This review is a part of ‘Off Script’, a series of ten memoirs by actors. ‘Off Script’ is a short-form essay exploration that poses the questions—can actors actually write? Should we care about their personal lives? I believe the answer to both these questions is yes (some) and I am here to prove it. 

Please disregard my beaten and bashed copy of the novel shown in the image. It was given to me by someone I love dearly and subsequently the distress on the book is evidence of how the book journeyed with me through 24 hours stuck in Bangkok and a tiresome UK trip. I often aim to keep my books in pristine condition, but I truly think the worn edges and water-damaged pages show what a close companion this book has been to me. 

I could not think of a better way to describe this book than a collection of ‘little weirds’. A blend of words and ideas that were so wonderful and at times so atrocious, that it can only be described as perfectly weird.

Quite often celebrity memoirs strike me as boring, or at least poorly written. This is mainly due to ghost writers and my poor selection of books, but Jenny Slate completely surprised me. An actress only I knew from her brief appearances on Parks and Recreation, I was delighted to receive this book and intrigued as to why it had raving reviews from not only Mindy Kaling but also George Saunders—two people I admire for completely different reasons. 

It is clear to me now that Mindy Kaling and George Saunders both appreciate the wacky and wonderful. The mystifying and magical. The line between reality and not is blurred within this book to create a world so relatable and close, yet so unique and distant. These are qualities that I believe all three writers, including Jenny Slate, possess and perhaps the reasoning behind their rave reviews. 

Each short story felt separate from each other and completely random, yet you could see the undercurrents that reflected Slate’s own viewpoints trickling through each one. From stories reflecting after her own death, musings in the kitchen and reliving traumatising parties, Slate maintains her completely unique writing style. Erratic and spontaneous, it is hard to keep up with Slate’s imagine as she lets it run rabid throughout the book—but in the best way possible. 

Several key themes that serve as Slate’s deeper reflections arose throughout the book, such as the feeling of failure in career or the emptiness that is the human condition. The most authentic undercurrent was the desperation and loneliness that Slate expressed throughout this book.  Although this (once) mirror upon my life was shattered when Slate thanks her partner profusely in the acknowledgement section. This deception was minor, but I was annoyed. That is my only strife with this collection. 

Ultimately, this was the perfect selection to start this series off. At the very least, Slate has proved that actors can have a unique storytelling ability, that they can write an interesting book. I aim not to reduce actors’ talent or set the bar low on their writing skills, but this book is a triumph—a completely unique memoir that made me fall a little bit in love with Jenny Slate. 

Article written by Mackenzie Stolp

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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