In My Defence, I Have No Defence

Sinead Stubbins

In My Defence, I Have No Defence
Affirm Press
25 May 2021

In My Defence, I Have No Defence

Sinead Stubbins

Sinéad Stubbins has always known that there was a better version of herself lying just outside of her grasp. That if she listened to the right song or won the right (any) award or knew about whisky or followed the right Instagram psychologist or drank kombucha, ever, or enacted the correct 70-step Korean skincare regime, she would become her ‘best self’.

In My Defence, I Have No Defence raises the white flag on trying to live up to impossible standards. Wild and funny and wickedly relatable, it is one woman’s reckoning with her complete inability to self-improve and a hilarious reprieve for anyone who has ever struggled to be better. This is the comfort read of the year from Australia’s most exciting new comedy writer.


Author and comedian Sinéad Stubbins has created a warm collection of stories to illustrate, very finely, that we all feel unconvinced and insecure at times. As a writer, her particular superpower is clearly the art of observation, and each written account in this book leaves no detail out. Stubbins offers us nitty-gritties from her own life: her years in high school, her first European trip, various job interviews, pick-up lines (read this book if only to learn about The Trick) and relationships. I laughed out loud during her story of being interviewed for a job as a 21-year-old; I enjoyed her section on literary heroines (I’m also a Jo); and while I didn’t understand many of her references to television shows and characters, I could relate to the ridiculous idealisations of romance she pinpoints. I empathised that at times our lives can feel like a soundtrack to a very bad movie, and that sometimes our friendships can hurt us, or betray us, or simply and gloriously make us feel like we can do anything.

This collection of memories and reflections might not be for everyone. Some may consider some of the topics too commonplace, but I reckon it’s worth delving into the mind of a woman who does not fear retribution and who can laugh at herself. By revealing her own diffidence, Stubbins lets us know that mistakes can be fodder for big laughs and you can recover. You can find your way.

This is the perfect read for those suffering from similar insecurities, or for those whose kids are about to leave home and venture into a world that makes no sense. From self- acceptance to youthful hubris, Stubbins has it covered. By sharing her own experiences, she reminds us of our own fallibility, and in this sense, In My Defence, I Have No Defence is an act of kindness.

Chris Gordon is the programming and events manager for Readings.

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