Saturday, April 23, 2016
American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis
American Housewife: Stories
by Helen Ellis
source: borrowed from the library
A sharp, funny, delightfully unhinged collection of stories set in the dark world of domesticity, American Housewife features murderous ladies who lunch, celebrity treasure hunters, and the best bra fitter south of the Mason Dixon line.
Meet the women of American Housewife: they wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it's cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. They pump the salad spinner like it's a CPR dummy. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies out of the oven. These twelve irresistible stories take us from a haunted prewar Manhattan apartment building to the set of a rigged reality television show, from the unique initiation ritual of a book club to the getaway car of a pageant princess on the lam, from the gallery opening of a tinfoil artist to the fitting room of a legendary lingerie shop. Vicious, fresh, and nutty as a poisoned Goo Goo Cluster, American Housewife is an uproarious, pointed commentary on womanhood.
This book was on my radar long before its release. The appealing blurb and eye-catching cover made it sound like a collection I'd enjoy, but when reviews began to appear they were decidedly mixed. I started to waver. A couple of weeks ago, I discovered American Housewives on the shelf at the local library and decided to bring it home. What did I have to lose?
The first story was just a few pages long and I thought the second was very good. "The Wainscoting War" chronicles a neighborly spat over common hallway decor through the combatants' email exchanges. It was quite funny and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the collection.
Overall, there were a few more stories I really liked ("Dumpster Diving with the Stars", "Hello! Welcome to Book Club", and "The Fitter") but just as many were only okay or fell a little flat. I'm glad I borrowed the book from the library.
Bottom line: Sassy and snarky, but a little uneven. Some stories were very funny, while others missed the mark.