Episodic, quirky, absurd: These are a few of the words that describe Emmy Award-winning comedy writer Georgia Pritchett’s memoir, My Mess Is a Bit of a Life: Adventures in Anxiety. Pritchett, best known for her work on “Succession” and “Veep,” writes in short bursts that pull the reader in with a manic sort of energy—but just as quickly push the reader away. This writing style echoes Pritchett’s anxiety, which is central to how she experiences the world.
Everyone in My Mess Is a Bit of a Life has a nickname. Pritchett’s mother is not her mother but The Witch. (She had a penchant for black hats.) Her father is The Patriarchy. Initially it’s hard to feel a close connection to the narrator because the vignettes fly by so quickly, even though they are zany and tilt-a-whirl fun. The memoir gains traction, though, as Pritchett transitions to her tentative forays into comedy writing. She describes climbing her way up and stepping around Oxford-educated men in a series of fascinating stories about the (somewhat familiar) experience of being the only female writer in the room. Pritchett’s natural reserve and distance served her well in those rooms; public criticism only made her more determined. With time, her steel began to shine through, though it was always tempered by sensitivity, kindness and a kind of off-center oddness that she treasured, protected and shared in her work.
Where I personally became fully immersed in the memoir was after Pritchett had her son, who has autism. She was told he wouldn’t speak. When she sent him to school, she sensed she was “putting him in a cupboard,” so she took him out of school and worked out a Plan B. Her poignant honesty in describing what she and her sons have experienced together, coupled with her fierceness and creativity, made me a true fan of the book, which is one that readers will not soon forget.