Animal – Sara Pascoe

Ah celebrities! They’re everywhere. On the tv, all over social media, most pages of almost every magazine and newspaper (probably not The Economist or the Financial Times mind you….) and, in many cases, on the shelves of your local bookshop. Some, to be fair, are probably only weighing down the shelves in charity shops (I’m old enough to remember how crazy the media went when Naomi Campbell ‘wrote’ Swan…) but others are really very good. Hugh Laurie, Jenny Eclair and Steve Martin have written books which, in my opinion, would still be good books even if their authors were not famous for other things too. What I find interesting is that many (although not all) of the best celebrity authors have a comedy background. Meera Syal, Dawn French, the mighty David Walliams, Mark Watson, Michael Palin – bestselling novelists every one. As for Morrissey, well, let’s just sweep that one under the carpet shall we…

Celebrity non-fiction is a much more mixed bag I feel. The autumn publishing schedules are always chock-full of biographies by footballers, actors and famous figures and they are always popular with their fans and, in the case of the best ones, those who just want to know more about the people they see on front pages and screens every day. Some famous people have interests which can result in slightly surprising books on Medieval history  or cookery but, on the whole, they generally boil down to autobiographies or humorous musings.

indexSara Pascoe’s Animal, at first, seems to fit into the musings category but before long I realised that it was more than that. While being a very funny book (pity poor Rob – he gets all the best bits read out loud to him whether he wants them or not) and also largely autobiographical it shows that Pascoe is one of the wave of comedians who want to use laughter to make us think about some very difficult and even controversial subjects. It is a testament to the quality of the book that it made me think about patriarchy, FGM and evolutionary psychology and yet I still balanced every in drawn breath of shock with a giggle. This kind of politicised comedy was something I first became aware of in the 70s and 80s (Ben Elton and Alexei Sayle spring to mind) and we have seen it develop through writers like Michael Moore and Mark Thomas. The feminist flag is waved vigorously (and brilliantly) by Caitlin Moran but she is, for me, a funny writer rather than a comedian who writes. Sara Pascoe is a very funny comedian and, in this book, she has shown herself to be a writer on a par with Moran.*

Humour is often seen as a way to appeal to the younger market – ‘da youf’ as they would probably be described by comedians old enough to know better – and this is a book which (despite a fair amount of sweariness) I would love to press into the hands of every girl and young woman I meet. One of the best bits is that Sara has reminded me that I should also be recommending it to all the young men (and all those who are still making a gender choice) as well. And then I’m going to start on the re-education of the older generation too…


*Sara Pascoe is now officially joining Moran on my ‘girl crush’ list. Once we all get together the patriarchy doesn’t stand a chance!


2 thoughts on “Animal – Sara Pascoe

  1. Loved this review and agree 100%, fantastic book in my opinion. Have followed you on the basis of this post! 🙂 Please check out my blog if you get the chance… x

  2. Pingback: Nina is Not Ok – Shappi Khorsandi | Jane & Bex book blog

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