Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Friday, February 5, 2016

American Housewife by Helen Ellis... A Review

I don't often read short story collections. Why? I can only say it's because of the investment. After I read the first story, it's like the first chapter of a "normal" book, I want to keep turning the pages. BUT, short story collections need to be savored and I usually am not the savory kind of reader. But I made an exception with American Housewife by Helen Ellis and I am so glad I did.

American Housewife is a collection of fun, contemporary, tongue-in-cheek stories that had me smiling cheek to cheek! And by contemporary, I mean stories I can relate to in the present day. Like the story of two women who live in apartments and share the same hallway (The Wainscoting War). One woman is rather elderly and has lived there forever with her flocked damask wallpaper and huge antique oil paintings in the common hallway they both share now. The other woman is a young "new money" girl and has ideas about updating what she thinks is a depressing and old looking hallway soon after she moves in.  Their "disagreement" is fought in emails to each other, until a final resolution, that is by no means neighborly, is reached. It is funny as all heck to read. Then we move into a behind the scenes look at a new reality show called Dumpster Diving with The Stars, that pits an ex-playboy bunny against a nobody writer and includes John Lithgow as part of the fun. No need to read these stories in order- enjoy them at will! In these stories you'll meet a housewife who "pumps the salad spinner like a CPR dummy", a housewife who thinks wainscoting is "the bomb" (and you should too or else!), and a group of book club ladies who have an unusual requirement when you join the club.  In all there are 12 stories, 2 of which are just 2 pages each, but a great 2 pages they are.

My favorite stories? Definitely The Wainscoting War (See description above), Hello!Welcome to Book Club (very Handmaiden Tales like), And The Fitter, which is about this husband who can tell exactly what bra will fit any lady and not just fit, but feel absolutely the most comfortable and look great too. No need to touch the woman, just looking at her reveals all he needs to know. It is a talent that he had since he was little, and he's very much in demand. And what woman wouldn't want a man who could do that! But being married to the guy is a full time job! That's all I'm going to say! I also really liked My Novel is Brought To You By, which is about this woman who signs a contract with Tampax to write a book and let's just say, product placement becomes an issue. It is funny!

I checked this out of my fabulous library, but now I think I'm going to have to buy this because it would be something I would open up and enjoy again. And that's a great thing about your library- you can try before you buy!

A slim 185 pages, but 4 stars from this housewife! Helen Ellis' writing is enticing and these stories are insightful, not to mention bitingly funny at times. Definitely borrow, and buy if tongue-in-cheek housewives put a grin on your face.

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