Psycho Babble


Engaging, if slightly superficial, essays on modern life from the perspective of a military spouse and mother.

A collection of essays by a U.S. Marine Corps wife explores a wide range of topics, from Star Trek to the family cat.

This book comprises 46 short essays, written in the “exasperated housewife” tone popularized by newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck, whom Diersen (Thinner Skin, 2014, etc.) cites in the essay “I Heart John-Boy” as one of her favorite authors. Previously published on Diersen’s online blog, the essays are divided into six sections. “On Children and Parenting” and “On Marriage and Relationships” contain stories from the author’s life as the wife of a Marine officer (referred to in the text only as “the Jarhead”) and the mother of two grown children, dubbed El Noblé and Princess Primrose. Other sections, like “Obsessions, Confessions, and Possessions” and “On Politics and Culture,” explore Diersen’s thoughts on such varied topics as favorite commercials, the emotional issues of the family cat, and gay marriage. In almost every case, the author employs a light, even glib, narrative style to deliver a sincere and thoughtful message. For example, “My Sci-Fi Fantasy,” which enumerates the five items of Star Trek technology she “wouldn’t mind having,” ends poignantly by placing at the top of the list Dr. McCoy’s cure for kidney disease so that she could alleviate her aunt’s need for dialysis. Similarly, “Pot Luck” expands a humorous account of a Georgia police raid on an okra farm they mistakenly believe is growing marijuana into a brief analysis of unjust drug seizure laws. Readers may tire of Diersen’s relentlessly perky tone, and there are some instances of dark humor that risk becoming alienating, such as in “The Limits of Togetherness,” in which she speculates on the ways her husband might murder her, given half a chance. But the majority of the essays are personable and entertaining, and Diersen concludes with two examples of her fiction, a short story and a novel excerpt, that pique the reader’s interest in her other works, including the novels Unmatched (2012) and Thinner Skin.

Engaging, if slightly superficial, essays on modern life from the perspective of a military spouse and mother.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-56055-6

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Blue Gentian Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2016



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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