The problem with a book jacket proclaiming its contents to be “explosively funny”, is that, firstly, very little in general is ever “explosively funny”, and a collection of essays, even less so.
But if you set that aside, this assortment of author Zadie Smith’s columns presents a panorama of critical thinking and cultural musing.
In a meditation on Justin Bieber she tackles the pathos of celebrity meet-and-greets and of losing yourself in the eyes of others; she dissects the self-consciousness bound up in writing a diary (Smith doesn’t bother with one) and how her Yahoo account might just be the best, most true representation of herself; and peruses why we ought to be struggling against the tyranny of Facebook.
There is wit, logic, astuteness and intellectual perkiness wrought on every page. However, you can get caught up in knots if you lose concentration – you’re required to dig in, grapple with the language – and a snarky inner voice seems prone to interjecting with doubts like: ‘You’re not clever enough to understand what she’s going on about, are you?” (this happens in my head at least).
But if you persevere, your mind will feel increasingly sharp with each essay conquered.