Things Are Against Us: Anti-patriarchy polemic and satire

The grumbling in her novels is tempered with tenderness but the unbridled fury here feels like preaching to the choir

British comedy writer Lucy Ellmann: “Men have wrecked everything of beauty and cultivated everything putrid on the face of the earth.” Photograph: Colin McPherson/Corbis

British comedy writer Lucy Ellmann: “Men have wrecked everything of beauty and cultivated everything putrid on the face of the earth.” Photograph: Colin McPherson/Corbis

“Let’s complain,” suggests Lucy Ellmann in the preface to this new collection of essays, her first book of nonfiction. In lieu of a Table of Contents, a Table of Discontents catalogues the 14 pieces, of which three are previously unpublished.

The griping begins innocently enough: in the titular essay, Ellmann sets out the disappointments of THINGS. “Fitted sheets never fit,” she writes. “And duvet covers? Their deviltry is legendary.” The pitch amps up quickly with The Underground Bunker, a piece about Trump’s America that first ran in The Irish Times, followed by Three Strikes, an anti-patriarchy polemic that appeared in the Baffler.

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