I'd Rather Not: Essays (Paperback)
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"A decidedly skewed, hilarious collection of life reflections and colorful storytelling." — Kirkus Reviews
An endlessly entertaining collection of wayward autobiographical tales about a search for a richer life thwarted at every turn by beagles, bureaucrats, and ill-advised love affairs
The unlikely story of how a failed dishwasher, tour guide, cabinet maker, bus driver, bookseller and literary journal publisher became one of Australia's hottest humor essayists
Perfect for fans of humorous, thought-provoking authors like Sloane Crosley, Jenny Lawson, Samantha Irby, and David Sedaris
This wryly subversive book of adventures (and misadventures) offers an original and utterly hilarious take on work, escape, and that something more we all need.
Robert Skinner arrives in the city, searching for a richer life. Things begin badly and then, surprisingly, get slightly worse. Pretty soon he's sleeping rough and trying to run a literary magazine out of a dog park. His quest for meaning keeps being thwarted, by gainful employment, house parties, ill-advised love affairs, camel trips, and bureaucratic entanglements.
The book's 14 essays/stories can be savored one at a time, or binge read:
- War and Peace
- The Perfect Host
- Cinderella Pays the Rent
- Lessons from Camels
- How to Make It in Business
- The Stopover
- Kings of Sweden
- House Party
- Car Sick
- I Fought the Law
- Always Coming Home
- The Art of Tour Guiding
- A Fisherman’s Lament
- Epilogue: Dying Art of Hitchhiking
Robert's distinctive voice possesses uncommon immediacy, at once humorous and soulful, self-effacing and wise. Perhaps most important of all, he is endlessly entertaining.
About the Author
Robert Skinner was born and raised on the Adelaide Plains. His writing appears frequently in The Monthly, and has also been featured in The Best Australian Essays, Best Australian Comedy Writing and Internazionale. He currently lives in Melbourne, where he works in a bookshop and plays football at the lowest level.
“The writer’s vignettes wittily chronicle the “false starts, failures and endless dabbling” of a self-confessed dilettante.”
-- The Sydney Morning Herald
"A decidedly skewed, hilarious collection of life reflections and colorful storytelling."
-- Kirkus Reviews
“Don’t judge a book by its cover, obviously – but this one captures the weird energy, bleak humour and absurdity of Skinner’s memoir so perfectly it deserves applause.”
-- Steph Harmon, The Guardian Australia
“[Robert Skinner] is a gifted writer with a keen intelligence and sense of humour so delightful you want to meet him.”
-- Penelope Debelle, The Herald Sun (Five-starred review)
“To make funny fodder out of a life full of ‘false starts, failures and endless dabbling’ is no easy task, but Skinner does so, and he does it well.”
-- Thuy On, ArtsHub
“This is genuinely hilarious and warm-hearted, and I hope lots of people will join in his fun.”
-- Alison Huber, Readings ‘Dear Reader’
“Read Robert Skinner’s book. It is very good. It will make you laugh. (It will make you consider saving money.) … once you start reading I’d Rather Not, you will not put it down until you have finished.”
-- Chris Gordon, Readings ‘What we’re reading’
“It only takes till the end of the chapter's first paragraph to become convinced of the assuredness of Skinner's witty and humane voice. From there, we're taken on a picaresque journey through moments as diverse as the intricacies of throwing the perfect house party, Skinner's experiences of homelessness, and a hilarious hitchhiking attempt.”
-- The Big Issue
‘…genuinely amusing and even a little PJ O'Rourke in its own way’
-- The Weekend Australian ‘Notable books’
"Seriously the funniest book I've read all year. I can't stop thinking about Robert Skinner's forays into the most mundane and frustrating aspects of life ... Read this book with a bottle of wine, and be alarmed and enlightened!"
--Alice Pung, author of One Hundred Days
"If only all books were as funny, human and true as I’d Rather Not. I raced through it, marvelling and envious all the way."
--Michelle de Kretser, author of The Life to Come
"My heart leaps whenever I see Robert Skinner’s byline; I know I am in for a hilarious literary treat complete with wry pearlers, gallows truths and wicked timing. People will say he is Australia’s Sedaris but he’s not. He’s Robert Skinner and he’s a bloody marvel."
-- Anna Krien, author of Night Games and Act of Grace
“This book is like a big properly-made gin and tonic drunk outside in a garden on a perfect Saturday afternoon."
-- Cate Kennedy, author of The World Beneath
"No one writes better when the stakes are lower."
-- Sam Vincent, author of My Father and Other Animals
“[I’d Rather Not] is Reading As Joy. (Remember that?) More joy than eating honey joys, listening to Col Joye and The Joy Boys on Joy FM. Comes out mid-year, I think, and damn we need more books like this.”
-- Michael Winkler, author of Grimmish
“He’s not so much a dilettante as an equal-opportunity appreciator, and his refusal to accommodate the demands of bureaucracy are all about a return to the physical world, to avoid missing anything in the rush to a destination. The result is a funny and affecting celebration of the glorious choices we so often have about where to go and how to get there.”
-- Jim Shepard, author of The Book of Aron and Phase Six
“Robert Skinner writes with humour, intelligence and heart. Pick up this book and you may never put it down.”
-- Tony Birch, author of The White Girl
“I was told this man came from the Adelaide Plains and so commenced to read his work. By the time I realised I’d been viciously misled and he actually grew up in Magill, it was too late. I was already completely in love with the book. It’s an absolute bag of lollies.”
-- Annabel Crabb, author of The Wife Drought