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American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

EllisI’m often asked to recommend fiction that is “light but good,” and American Housewife fits that description exactly.  A slim book at just 188 pages that are such fun to read, it is a collection of humorous short stories that had me laughing out loud. 

Usually I don’t read short stories because as a rule, they leave me unsatisfied. But one look at this collection by novelist (and professional poker player!) Helen Ellis made me pick it up. The cover art features a small woman, sitting on a closed commode and dressed in a fetching orange terry cloth hooded ensemble, her hair in giant curlers wrapped in a scarf, filing her nails.  

The author writes in a snarky, somewhat sarcastic tone about everyday things. Book clubs, for example – how do you get invited to join the right one, do you have to sit in assigned seats, and are custom cocktails and laminated book marks provided? Another story is about a reality TV show in which contestants vie to unearth the most valuable piece of junk at the flea market.  Also funny is a piece examining ways to become a patron of the arts and another story about “The Southern Lady Code.” What is the Southern Lady Code? It’s what southern ladies say in response to awkward moments – for example, a southern lady will say “she has a big personality” when she means “that woman is as loud as a T-Rex,” or she’ll say,  “He has a good time!” to describe someone who parties way too much.

This would be a great book to take on a vacation, or to read while commuting.  It is not, however, a good choice for anyone easily offended – the author is not particularly concerned about being politically correct or subtle, and a few of the stories are pretty dark (which is why I am recommending it!).

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