You don’t have to get far into Maeve in America, a volume of essays by Irish-born comedian Maeve Higgins, to start laughing. The book’s dedication, to the author’s seven nieces and nephews, reads: “You think I am your aunt, but really I am your mother.”
The 15 essays in this wonderful collection recount Higgins’ adventures—and misadventures—as she goes about “the endlessly tricky business of being a regular human being.”
Higgins plunges into her life in New York, where she’s lived for several years. She reflects on parties, Manhattan summers and the differences in small talk in Ireland and America. Dogs also merit an essay. “Rescue animals are prized possessions in New York,” Higgins tells us. “It seems the older and sicker your animal is, the richer and greater you are.”
Higgins’ essays sparkle with humor and wry observations. But as she puts it, “[t]he sliver of shared space between comedy and tragedy is one that fascinates me.” And so Higgins lets us see into the shadows—of her life and perhaps our own. She speaks of “the lowness of loneliness” and how it sneaks up at unexpected moments. She explores the terrain of friendships and failures, and writes about immigration, past and present.
In an essay entitled “Are You My Husband?” Higgins speculates on the qualities of the perfect mate. “I want him to be funny but also stable, maybe like a successful ophthalmologist who crosses his own eyes when he tells you to follow his pen.” We can wish Higgins good luck in her quest for a mate, and savor our own good luck that she has followed her pen.