Bad Vibes Only by Nora McInerney (Memoir)

McInerney’s memoir-in-essays takes us from her largely technology-free childhood through to the reality-TV and social media reshares infused present. A cross between Anne Lamott, Florence King, and Nora Ephron, the book is both insightful and hysterically laugh-out-loud funny. Or is it? This woman is self professedly neurotic and an incredibly intuitive writer. What I found both instructive and a little depressing is how closely some of my own neuroses match hers — reading her descriptions made me realize how incredibly neurotic (in just these TINY little ways) I really am — and maybe those aren’t quite as funny as the rest. Still, I totally laughed my way through.

McInerney is the creator / host of the podcast “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” I haven’t listened to it (because podcasts don’t unreel as fast as I can read) but I bet it’s great.

Some great quotes:

“Memory loss was a problem for future me, and I trusted she’d be able to deal with the consequences of my actions. That trust was entirely misplaced, because I’m not even forty yet and on a good day I’ll walk into a room and ask Matthew, ‘What was I about to say?’ as if he’s a searchable database with a Bluetooth connection to my brain.”

“ ‘Good Vibes Only’ makes a cute saying for a mug, but a pretty ominous interpersonal standard.”

“It doesn’t take a psychology degree to understand that some things are just more pleasant than others, and that as comfort-seeking mammals with disposable income we are attracted to the pleasant, the easy. And yes, we know that ‘life is hard’, but we also really want it to be hard in ways that are manageable and more inconvenient than difficult.”

“Because no, this is not what happens on my version of the internet, where opinions are either inconsequential (what does your coffee mug really say about you?) or authoritative, loud and devoid of all nuance.”

“I hate to describe critical thinking as a privilege, but take a look around: life is hard, and people are tired, and the small doses of camaraderie and dopamine we get from clicking “reshare” on a hot take will always be easier and more satisfying than reading a well-researched piece of reporting and thinking aloud to yourself, ‘Well, it certainly seems like a complex issue.’ “

“Our children — God willing — will grow up and move out, will establish their own lives shrinking and shifting so that we are no longer the sun but some outer planet that upon further inspection actually may just be a defunct satellite stuck in their orbit.”

“At nine she had realized that our memories are the only things keeping us here; a weak Velcro preventing us from being ripped from the history of time. We want to remember because we too fear existential obliteration, shudder at the thought of being lost to an endless sea of unforgettable moments long forgotten.”

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on October 11th, 2022.

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