The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – Book Review

I haven’t seen much of Amy Schumer’s comedic material, but her turn in Trainwreck was memorable enough for me to read this enjoyable autobiographical collection of essays and recollections, told with frankness, humour and quite a bit of raunch and cussing. There’s always a measure of scepticism when one reads a memoir by a celebrity – particularly a performer – in how much of it is a carefully edited performance and how much is genuine. As far as my impressions went, Schumer at least doesn’t come off as a person who pretends to be someone they’re not.

The biggest surprise of the book for me was Schumer revealing herself to be a fellow classic textbook introvert – not a description one would associate with her out-there, outspoken persona – who spends most of her days alone and is easily drained by the social interaction. I’m just as guilty of stereotyping others as anyone I guess.

As with any such collection, some chapters are better than others. I largely preferred to skip the annotated journal entries from different points of Schumer’s life – too cutesy for my liking. Other chapters were winners, I particularly liked the one on Schumer’s stand-up career (the secret to success: if you live it and breathe it and do it over and over and over and over and over and over in all sorts of venues, you will get a little bit better). She also talks candidly about her family, her parents’ marriages, her father’s multiple sclerosis, and coming to terms with the realisation about her dysfunctional relationship with her mother. These hilarious and poignant family vignettes are some of the most affecting parts of the book. There’s also a pretty chilling account of being in an abusive relationship which drives home the point that this could happen to any woman, even a mouthy “strong-ass” one, and how hard it can be for the person caught up inside to recognise it for what it is. Another recollection, about losing virginity in a non-consensual manner and comforting her then-boyfriend afterwards, is a stark reminder of how much conditioning there is of women to feel liked and keep the peace above all else. Other more light-hearted memories cover Schumer’s one and only one-night stand with a gorgeous Brit, her crappy early jobs, and some celebrity hook-ups (no names mentioned) that went hilariously wrong and weird.

I enjoyed Schumer’s storytelling more than her earnest moral statements about female empowerment, loving yourself etc. etc. (if anyone finds them inspiring more power to you, but this style is just not something I respond to. Same goes for most motivational/inspirational quotes and fridge magnets), and some parts could do with a bit of editing. Overall though, it was a funny, frank read that made me feel like I got to know the author and what makes her tick.

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