A saga of single parenthood, second marriage, surly fauna and being mistaken for a Swedish porn star
Email this review


An irreverent debut collection of essays on the quotidian details of family life.

Earlier generations of readers had the homemaker humor of Erma Bombeck and Jean Kerr, but the pieces in this collection offer a different kind of wit. Expanding on her ongoing newspaper column, the author works behind a thin veil of anonymity: While temporarily living in Sweden, she and her second husband “dubbed ourselves Inga and Olof.” The names stuck and provided her with the freedom to write about family and personal matters while also maintaining her privacy. Sometimes, though, it led to confusion; many fans, she writes, “must have been deflated (literally) to have come upon my Inga blog site expecting a Scandinavian hottie with…a power rack and instead found the memoirs of a middle-aged Swedish wannabe.” These short essays, arranged in 14 sections, cover Inga’s years as a single mom (including multiple “Disastrous Date All-Stars” and a large section titled “Kids, Part 1: A Question of Who Survived Whom”) as well as her later life (“The Perils of Spoiling the Granddog”). Overall, they’re full of solid writing and engaging wit. They aren’t exactly happy-housewife tales, however, and Inga is always honest about her limitations: “I never did learn knots, in spite of spending considerable time using the rabbit-goes-around-the-tree-and-through-the-hole method. (My rabbits always…got tangled up, and hung themselves).” There’s no doubt that Inga’s humor runs in the family; Olof’s note to a neighbor about a new computer mouse, for example, explains that “[o]ptical mice have no balls,” and recommends turning off the computer when installing them, as they “can experience ‘amputational shock’ when one of their members is removed.” Her sons, Rory (“Parental Terrorist in Training”) and Henry (“The X-Rated Three-year-old”), also provide plenty of additional fodder. For example, Inga and the adult Rory exchange emails after he reserves several unusual titles for his mother at the local library, including The Book of the Penis. Not to be outdone, Inga provides Rory with a thorough review of the book—along with suggestions for dinner-party conversation. This engaging essay shows the essence of Inga’s collection: clever and contemporary and even a little bit naughty.

Inga joins the leagues of essayists who make the mundane truly entertaining.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1502303868
Page count: 342pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2015


NonfictionME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris
by David Sedaris
NonfictionLETTERS TO A FRIEND by Diana Athill
by Diana Athill
NonfictionMY MISTAKE by Daniel Menaker
by Daniel Menaker