Kelly O

There were 1,200 people trying to cram themselves into Town Hall as this photo was taken. It was the first Seattle date on Lindy West's book tour for Shrill, her hilarious new memoir about growing up in a body that other people treat like "one big meat-blooper."

She strode onto the stage looking gorgeous, with a phone in her hand, taking video. The crowd was roaring. "Sorry if that was gross that I came out with my phone, but it is so weird there are so many of you!" she said.

She talked about how, in publishing, "women's stories are niche stories and men's stories are universal," and her gratefulness to her publisher, Hachette, for letting her present the minutiae of her life "as literature, which is the way men's lives' minutiae gets presented."

She read a section of Shrill about the exclusively negative representations of fat people she saw as a child—including the Queen of Hearts, Ursula the Sea Witch, and Lady Kluck from Disney's Robin Hood. Later, during the Q&A, on the subject of representation, she said: "I've heard from so many people who said they've never felt seen before. If five people have that reaction, I'm glad to have done it."

What's her writing process? She answered: "So I start with 10 to 12 hours of sitting perfectly still unable to do anything—10 hours of frozen misery. And then it sort of all just comes out in one big dump at like 5 a.m. when I'm in my underwear eating Swedish fish and crying."

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Someone asked her what the best moment of her year has been so far, and she said: "This is it. Right now. This exact moment."

West will be celebrated at the Stranger Genius Awards party on September 24 at the Moore Theatre, and she's in the running for $5,000, no strings attached. To see all 15 artists nominated this year, go to