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Essayist, Blogger Samantha Irby's 'Meaty' Wins Fans' Hearts Across City

By Alisa Hauser | October 2, 2013 6:35am
 33-year-old writer Samantha Irby's collection of personal essays, "Meaty" has sold out of some book shops and is Curbside Splendor's best selling title yet, according to publisher Victor Giron. 
Samantha Irby's "Meaty" Takes Readers By Storm
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CHICAGO — A Rogers Park woman is bringing belly laughs and tears to readers around the city, while her new book is selling out of stores and is already the best-selling title for the Logan Square publisher that released it.

The creator of the popular Bitches Gotta Eat blog, 33-year-old Samantha Irby's honesty and self-deprecating posts have earned her thousands of fans, and now Irby's deeply personal essays are winning over literary critics, too.

Published in September by Logan Square-based Curbside Splendor, Irby's collection of essays was selected for Barnes and Noble's 2013 Discover Great New Writers series, which kicks off with a 7 p.m. Friday reading by Irby at the Webster Place store, 1441 W. Webster St. in Lincoln Park.

 Kaicy June, of Humboldt Park, read "Meaty," a book by Rogers Park resident Samantha Irby.
Kaicy June, of Humboldt Park, read "Meaty," a book by Rogers Park resident Samantha Irby.
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Kaicy June

Irby confirmed Tuesday that she's chosen the Wicker Park neighborhood to host "Meaty's" unofficial launch party Oct. 23 at The Silver Room, 1442 N. Milwaukee Ave.

In an Aug. 7 blog post, "how to make public small talk with someone you used to have sex with," Irby describes the The Silver Room's annual block party as, "the sexiest party of the summer, as it is always teeming with the kind of black people who wear headwraps in real life and make vegan meals and are really opinionated about which is the best dead prez record."

The party is also teeming with ex-boyfriends, who inspire a stream of conscious listing of 50 places her exes are not welcome at, from The Bedford and Trencherman to very specific places like, "The tamale cart at the corner of Lunt and Clark."

Reached by phone Tuesday at her job at the front desk of Evanston animal hospital, Irby called all the buzz and attention "exciting," and while she lives and works a long way from Wicker Park, she said she chose to have her unofficial party there because the owner of the Silver Room, Eric Williams is "a really good dude."

Kaicy June, who works in the artisanal food industry, purchased "Meaty" at Quimby's Bookstore at 1824 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park, which sold out of the book on Monday and has more on order, a clerk confirmed.

The book has struck a chord with many local fans of the blog, including June, a Humboldt Park woman who said she stayed up all night on Tuesday to read "Meaty" — for the second time in two days.

"We all think really cutting things about our bodies, we all get depressed, we all feel feelings in some capacity, and, in our technology-saturated and socially awkward worlds, Samantha Irby is giving a voice to that which we've not been able to verbalize," June wrote in an email.

June said her favorite essay in the book is "My Mother, My Daughter" because "it was so well written and so moving and such a departure from what I was used to from her blog."

The only essay in the collection of 25 that was published previously, "My Mother, My Daughter" is about growing up in Evanston and taking care of a sick mother and having an alcoholic father.

June said, "What makes [Irby] appealing to me is that the honesty she is shooting out of her brain, through her fingertips, and into the World Wide Web is that which we all have residing in some corner of our brains. "

"Meaty" was one of 12 books published this fall by Curbside Splendor, a 3-year-old independent publishing house founded by Victor David Giron, who lives in Logan Square and works a day job as a financial controller for a liquor company. 

With an initial print run of 6,000 copies, Giron said "Meaty" has been Curbside Splendor's "best selling title by a lot" and added the book "is also selling well on Amazon Kindle and Nook [e-readers].

"We're going to have to quickly print more, though we need to see how sales are at the end of October, first," Giron said.

In addition to Barnes and Noble stores, "Meaty," is available at several independent bookstores such as the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, Quimby's and 57th Street Books in Hyde Park. 

Though a book tour visiting several Barnes and Nobles around the country was planned, Irby's Crohn’s disease, which is an ever-present part of her life (one blog post sees her going to a speed dating event in a diaper), has limited her travel, Giron said.

"We’re only doing regional appearances for now and focusing on Internet stuff," Giron said.

Irby will read from and sign copies of "Meaty" at 7 p.m,. Friday at Barnes and Noble, 1441 W. Webster Ave. in Lincoln Park.

Irby and two other Curbside Splendor authors will read at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at The Book Cellar, 4635 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Square. 

On Oct. 23, The Silver Room, 1442 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park will host a Book Launch Party for "Meaty."  Check the store's Facebook page for updates.