Amy Schumer’s The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo covers a lot of territory. There are funny anecdotes–about sex, about shoplifting, about drinking–but the overall tone is bittersweet. While many celebrity memoirs read like raucous meditations on the performing life, Schumer’s tests the bounds of dark humor. She has struggled with her father’s physical deterioration from multiple sclerosis, abusive relationships and a hefty dose of sexism.
Her parents influenced her worldview: her father was too honest, sometimes to the point of cruelty; her mother was so upbeat that she denied when things went amiss. Her mother had an affair with the father of Schumer’s best friend, which split up her parents. (Each married three times.) Later, Schumer endured an abusive relationship and a sexual encounter she describes as “nonconsensual.”
Schumer’s stories of casual misogyny as she climbed the comedy ladder wind up being among the more lighthearted tales. Her conclusion: humor is largely responsible for getting her through it all, though as a reader you might find it difficult to laugh.
This appears in the September 05, 2016 issue of TIME.
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