IRONING JOHN by James Leith


The Househusband's Tale
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 While his wife (``the Househead'') took a year to compose a biography of the prime minister, British food critic and quondam actor Leith reversed roles with her and assumed the tile of ``the Houseworm.'' He now sends a report of what he dubs ``the Major Year'' across the pond to entertain the folks hereabouts. It's Dave Barry in John Bull's costume, Erma Bombeck in Boadicea's robe. The standards of garden variety domestic risibility--kids, in-laws, holidays, plant life, animal life, sex life (encompassing ``rumpy-pumpy'' and ``jiggery-pokey''), and all that--are laid out in nearly impenetrable British accents. There is, never fear, the fondness for the naughty bits so characteristic of our English cousins, but it's a sophisticated step above the usual ``show us your knickers,'' and Leith, who knows how to chat one up, proves Jack-the-lad, whatever that may be. What gets up his pipe is how the bloody hell the wimmin, bless 'em, manage it all with such aplomb. This homo domesticus (forget sapiens) seems to have his hands full, what with cat doo-doo, dog flatulence, and wisecracking children, while she of the distaff department regularly pops off to appear on the telly. Apparently never having quite mastered the use of italics for emphasis, the author uses a lot of CAPITALS (on virtually EVERY PAGE!), which is, if nothing else, startling. For a finale, we are presented with three weeks of menus in case, heaven forbid, we wish to eat like the Brits before our health-care system collapses. How about a treat like ``Fray Bentos Steak-and-Kidney Pie (straight out of the tin!)''? This bloke surely entertains his mates, and if an Englishman in an apron is your cuppa orange pekoe, why here's a nice cuppa.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-87113-615-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1995