In our confession-happy culture, few revelations can still provoke pearl clutching; admitting you’re happy your mom died is one of them. Los Angeles-based Meghan Daum, 44, goes boldly into that good night in “Matricide,” the first piece in her bracing new collection of essays. Daum—who’s written for The New Yorker and the Los Angeles Times—famously nailed the zeitgeist with her riffs on post-Gen X life in the seminal My Misspent Youth. Though The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30) cannily addresses generational touchstones like proxy parenthood (pet ownership; mentoring foster kids) and sexual fluidity (“Honorary Dyke” gives everything away in its title), this book is most concerned with mortality. In addition to bearing witness to her mother’s war of attrition with cancer, Daum reflects on her own very-near-death experience and “miracle” recovery. For all its gravity, though, The Unspeakable is buoyant, clever and frequently hilarious. Additional Crush Factors: Thinks Bridget Jones’s Diary is totally subversive and intellectually underappreciated; has rattled Rush Limbaugh into calling her a “feminazi” on several occasions.