Malloy presents a collection of 39 funny, charming and poignant snapshots of her life as the mother of two boys.
As is true of most mothers, Malloy notes that she used to have “an individual personality” with hobbies, interests and a career. Then the baby arrived, and the new mom discovered this arrival marked the beginning of a new series of identities: Baby’s Mom, Schoolhouse Mom, Frazzled Mom, Invisible Mom. With gentle humor and wit, the author recounts various moments of motherhood that most mothers will recognize from their own lives. The stories are not reflections on the big occasions of celebration or sadness or drama. These are the short, ordinary, everyday moments often taken for granted, but not here, where they’re examined and savored. Her approach serves as a good reminder that motherhood doesn’t require perfection; that it’s the everyday chaos that makes motherhood so exasperating and yet so worthwhile. This is what it is to be a “Real Mother.” Malloy makes no apology for her conclusions: that the parenting magazines might best be suited for lining the hamster cage; that fathers parent differently; that math will need to be learned all over again; and that the “Land of Perfect Parenthood” is as fictional as never-never land. Rather, Malloy celebrates what “no book could ever teach: common sense” mixed with a little levity. Any mother who has ever herded toddlers, coped with a child’s amazing array of questions and bodily fluids, or tried to appear calm while their insides were raging with worry over a teenager, will find solace, camaraderie and more than a few laughs.
A quick, lighthearted romp through the joys of motherhood as told by a real, honest and very funny mom.
A fun-filled tale of new beginnings, sudden endings and the lighter side of the daily grind.
After a professional and personal meltdown in Orange County, Louisa “Lulu” Hallstrom packs her things and returns home to Seattle. With her $80,000-a-year job firmly in the rearview, Louisa takes the first job available—an entry-level admin position working for a lazy, mentally unbalanced boss. In desperate need of an apartment, Louisa hooks up with an old college friend who has morphed into a slovenly, militant environmentalist with a horrifying lack of domestic skills and hygiene. Louisa, her love life in similar shambles, finds herself at the mercy of online dating and its resulting grotesqueries. Her bad luck is compounded when she finds the body of a co-worker and becomes a suspect, a misfortune that’s surpassed by another concern: She might be the next victim. The engaging, unwitting Louisa helps first-time author Reinke successfully capture the fresh style of a light, well-paced mystery, impressively rendered with interesting, multidimensional characters. Reinke’s humorous, witty voice is accessorized by easygoing and accessible prose. Despite a few imperfections—slightly contrived dialogue, for example—Reinke wisely refrains from getting too fancy with inorganic plot twists; instead, she simply lets the story speak for itself. Louisa is a funny, endearing, self-deprecating and, above all, relatable heroine, whom just about every woman can relate to as she navigates a turbulent life, with a few laughs along the way. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more soon from Reinke and Louisa.
A refreshing, humorous read that strikes a winning balance between chick lit and light mystery.
A roller-coaster ride through the sex- and thrills-addled brain of the young, modern, American man.
Brian Fry is your average middle-class, college-educated, perpetually dissatisfied, 25-year-old male. He thinks an awful lot about booze, boobs and Bertrand Russell, and he defines his emotional growth relative to his bouts with intense sexual desire, jealousy and fistfights. His discovery of—and subsequent addiction to—the wonders of the Internet further fuels both his lust and discontent. On his travels to Scotland, New York, Los Angeles, Cancun and Canada, Brian muses about evolution and sociology, as he compares the relative assets of strippers and girlfriends. Slowly growing up, he finds that trading some immediate pleasures for long-term gratification may contain rewards that extend beyond the thrill of a lap dance. But can this pleasure-seeker’s shallow philosophizing ever lead to true happiness? Henry free-associates throughout his protagonist’s life, connecting the vivid description of a night of drinking to F. Scott Fitzgerald and a tale of lost virginity to Genghis Khan and the Minnesota Vikings. Although Henry’s style tends to tell rather than show, Brian’s psyche tells of a striking array of brain waves: Sexual freedom runs parallel to fear about diseases and pregnancy, and displays of wealth bump up against extreme economic hardship. The unvarnished portrait is studded with facts—historical, scientific, zoological and, for more than a few, dubious. While some readers may find Brian’s simultaneous worship and disdain for women distressing, the narrative’s candid revelations make for a riveting read.
An honest, funny and occasionally troubling look at socially bewildered masculinity in the 21st century.
Debut author Colleary chronicles 40 weeks of pregnancy in this irreverent account.
Sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy, screenwriter and blogger Colleary tells all with witty sarcasm and edgy, laugh-out-loud humor. She begins with conception and the results of a home pregnancy test before careening through laments of sleepless nights, mood swings, weight gain and nausea with snappy but snide remarks most pregnant women think but few express. Colleary’s book is a fun, literary romp for any woman who has experienced “The First Trimester Through Hell” and lived to read the tale. The former homecoming queen and INXS backup dancer, now the pregnant mommy of one, alternates between admitted snobbery (“I saw stay-at-home moms as the kind of women who sat in the fifth pew of fill-in-the-blank church, smiling with bland acquiescence, who thought Danielle Steele novels were literature”) and a self-deprecating appraisal of her blossoming physique (“Some days even my earlobes feel fat”). Each chapter notes the gestation time in weeks and days, recounted in diary style, and draws readers into one delicious admission after another. Colleary professes a jealousy for the skinny, overachieving Gwyneth Paltrow and a tendency toward fantasies involving George Clooney. She regales with funny tales of an overbearing lactation nurse screeching about the importance of colostrum and a would-be caregiver whose secret life, the author fears, will eventually be revealed on a daytime talk show. Colleary’s humor and warmth flow seamlessly from conception to birth in this well-written, snappy read.
A hysterical account of pregnancy that will resonate with readers who’ve been through it before.
The laugh-out-loud tale of how a hapless accountant endures a three-day coma in the company of another soul in limbo, observing the gritty, often bizarre goings-on of an inner-city emergency room.
It’s just after Christmas, and Alan Fries is confused: Why are nurses wearing antlers hovering over him, and why, instead of watching the Bears–Vikings game, is he hanging out in the ER with an 87-year-old crank named Jerry? Apparently in limbo while awaiting resuscitation or a signed death certificate, the oddball pair become dead flies on the walls in St. Augustine’s—aka Holy Tino’s—an aging Chicago hospital with grave financial issues and a staff of embattled but good-hearted nurses and doctors. This cast of characters could top the Nielsen ratings in a TV sitcom: the doctor who leaves his sperm sample in the fridge, the veteran nurse putting the kibosh on an intern’s crush and the ever-plentiful nutcases who file through the ER’s sliding doors. The flirtations, the combative patients and the increasing suspicions about the hospital CEO all come peppered with Jerry’s curmudgeon commentary and Alan’s naïve curiosity regarding such ephemera as why he can’t activate the paper towel dispenser and whether he should have a bucket or an “unbucket” list. Author Knauss, who practices emergency medicine when not penning novels, structures the narrative on a framework of expertise that gives the story both legitimacy and depth. He also wisely weaves in strands of seriocomic contemplation as Alan regularly ponders his life choices and his treatment of his wife, Laura. He misses her, although strangely, he doesn’t spend time in Room 4, where she waits anxiously with his best friend. Nor does he seem interested in the progress of his tube-ridden, comatose body. But such questions aside, Alan's and Jerry’s repartee and observations are a gas to read, and the subplot that arises about halfway through adds to the sense of purpose that Alan felt was previously lacking in his life. He even plans for the future—provided he recovers.
Witty and engaging, this short novel will provide readers a dose of hilarity and a quick cure for the workaday blues.
As a deadlocked election grips the fictional sultanate of Moq’tar, no issue is safe from Perlstein’s (God’s Others, 2010, etc.) wit as he lampoons politics in the Gulf.
Bobby Gatling, a retired U.S. soldier now employed by a private security firm, is on assignment in Moq’tar. While Bobby’s been training security forces, the aging sultan has allowed his favorite son, Yusuf, to run the country. Western-educated with an MBA from Berkeley, Yusuf has been hard at work, in the capitalist fashion, transforming Moq’tar into “Moq’tar, Inc.” And his sister, the alluring Zoraya, has been with him every step of the way. But everything gets complicated quickly when it turns out that the succession isn’t as certain as Yusuf (and America) thought. Between a drunken U.S. ambassador, a cultural affairs officer with a penchant for cinema, and Yusuf’s playboy-turned-traditionalist older brother, Bobby has his work cut out for him. Stuck in the middle, he’s forced to balance his duties, his loyalties and his conscience as he navigates the dangers of a Middle-Eastern election rife with double-dealing and assassination attempts. The setting works brilliantly for Perlstein to show how ridiculously volatile the region can be, as he takes well-aimed shots at capitalism gone too far, gulf politics, forced democracy and anti-Semitism (to name just a few). It’s satire at its finest—laughing until the sobering moment of realization that the events in Moq’tar aren’t as fictional as you’d hope. To his credit, Perlstein never crosses the line into offensiveness, despite the numerous hot topics and cultures in his sights. And although he tends to dump characterization on the reader, that’s hardly a bother since each one is compelling. Best of all, the novel isn’t written just for scholars of the region; the plot is packed full of car chases and plot twists that keep the tension high and the pace fast. Those looking for subtle humor will find plenty, but those interested in action and intrigue alone won’t be disappointed either.
This lighthearted, sparkling novel presents the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of a man, his dog, his mother’s ghost and other assorted characters.
Schoolteacher Chesterfield is a man satisfied with life: His parents and his dog are “in super fettle,” his sixth-graders are doing well and he’s happily married. Or so he thinks, until the “one rummy morning” his wife, Deborah, (having grown impatient of Chesterfield’s low pay and despairing of his ever inheriting the perhaps-mythical family fortune) leaves him for newly rich Benedict Hoepplewhite, “mortgage broker, wife-stealer and cur.” This sets in motion a series of events, including an aborted revenge attempt, tenure struggles at Chesterfield’s school, wrongdoings at a fitness club, a new romance with a pretty kindergarten teacher and not a little heroism. Then there’s his mother’s death and reappearance as a ghost, her arrival signaled by the tinkling of ice cubes in her ever-present drink. In these adventures, Chesterfield is joined by “the smashingest girl ever, name of Carrie Hahn, and the stellar dog Daisy, who sniffs out villains a mile away, and the lioness-hearted ‘gym-chick’ Jeanine, who carried the day when I fell wounded, and who made a man of my gormless pal Larry.” Chesterfield—whose American father was “the fightingest blood and guts Marine of his day”—talks like someone out of P.G. Wodehouse. It’s because, he says, his father was always out of the country, while his British mother “spoke the language and ethic that I breathed in: ‘There never was a time like good King Edward’s, dear. For fun, for peace, and for talk. It was Shakespeare and Elizabeth with proper drains and no bear-baiting.’ ” Even in Britain, Chesterfield’s what-ho slang would probably be out of date, but no matter; it’s fun. Chesterfield’s gentlemanly ethic includes not initiating his divorce (“only a swine” would do that) and declining to entrap Hoepplewhite, finally wishing him no harm: “I sensed approval by the good old Anglican deity who made dogs and trout streams, has humour, and stands like a Gentleman mostly out of the way.” Literate, funny and romantic, with amusing comments on American culture, this novel has its heart in the right place.
The only unsatisfying feature of Parry’s debut is that it ends.