"I loved it." —Ann Patchett
The bestselling author of American Housewife ("Dark, deadpan and truly inventive." --The New York Times Book Review) is back with a fiercely funny collection of essays on marriage and manners, thank-you notes and three-ways, ghosts, gunshots, gynecology, and the Calgon-scented, onion-dipped, monogrammed art of living as a Southern Lady.
Helen Ellis has a mantra: "If you don't have something nice to say, say something not-so-nice in a nice way." Say "weathered" instead of "she looks like a cake left out in the rain." Say "early-developed" instead of "brace face and B cups." And for the love of Coke Salad, always say "Sorry you saw something that offended you" instead of "Get that stick out of your butt, Miss Prissy Pants." In these twenty-three raucous essays Ellis transforms herself into a dominatrix Donna Reed to save her marriage, inadvertently steals a $795 Burberry trench coat, witnesses a man fake his own death at a party, avoids a neck lift, and finds a black-tie gown that gives her the confidence of a drag queen. While she may have left her home in Alabama, married a New Yorker, forgotten how to drive, and abandoned the puffy headbands of her youth, Helen Ellis is clinging to her Southern accent like mayonnaise to white bread, and offering readers a hilarious, completely singular view on womanhood for both sides of the Mason-Dixon.
A vibrant storyteller with a penchant for the perverse, Ellis pivots from short stories (American Housewife) to nonfiction in this ribald collection of essays on manners, morals, and marriage, all colored by her off-kilter Alabama upbringing. From Marie Kondo's tidying-up magic to Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers and being a teenager in the 1980s, Ellis's sharp eye for pop-culture preoccupations inspires smart-mouthed provocations. She humorously describes her 23-year-old self in Manhattan on her way to a date "with a panty liner stuck to my back. Yes, it was used," and discusses happy couples and three-ways; the difference between gay men and Southern Effeminate men who "wear seersucker and bow ties... collect salt shakers and cookie jars"; and being a good airline passenger ("I wipe down the seat like I'm giving it a tetanus shot"). Ellis shares her mother's etiquette advice for handling street crime ("Always carry money for a mugger three one-dollar bills wrapped in a five... then throw the money and run screaming Officer down!"), and tells of her father staging pretend gun violence to liven up a birthday party. Ellis is a strong, vivid writer and this book is gut-busting funny.