IF YOU DID WHAT I ASKED IN THE FIRST PLACE by Lori B. Duff

IF YOU DID WHAT I ASKED IN THE FIRST PLACE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A columnist, author, and former lawyer based in suburban Atlanta offers a collection of essays.

In this wide-ranging volume, Duff (Telling Your Story, 2016, etc.) explores motherhood, “First World Problems,” her love of food, and her personal life. A self-described “New York Jew living in a small southern town,” the author is married to a former police helicopter pilot and has two children. Crafted much like a blog, Duff’s lighthearted stories examine day-to-day triumphs and tribulations with forthright honesty and the kind of humor that combines self-deprecation and casual philosophizing. “There are two kinds of people in this world,” she muses in an early essay. “People who think adrenaline is fun and exciting and a fresh breath of life, and people who think adrenaline is the stuff of anxiety and ulcers.” She writes frequently about her obsessions—one essay is entirely devoted to Wonder Woman. In court, Duff took notes with a Wonder Woman pen. Such details make it clear that her writing served as a respite from daily stress. One work is just a poem that riffs on “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”: “Get this trash out of my car / The Taco Bell / The Coffee Cup / Balloons that you were blowing up.” Elsewhere, she considers the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, the difficulties of small talk, and the challenge of packing healthy lunches for her kids. One of the funniest essays classifies nine types of PTO parents, though Duff is not opposed to tackling more serious subjects like mortality (“My Funeral”) and sexism. The author tends to use informal spellings and usages—“gen-you-wine” is one example. It’s a prose style that’s perhaps better suited for the internet and may be cloying for some readers. A few pieces read like mundane diary entries, as when she writes: “In the following pages I will try to make clear my expectations for people who interact with me. For the people who don’t interact with me on a daily basis, I’ve tried to make my expectations entertaining and, possibly, just a little bit relatable.” Still, many readers will find Duff’s candor bracing and satisfying. 

An engaging but bumpy assemblage of amusing and self-effacing stories about parenthood and life.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-947309-70-8
Page count: 222pp
Publisher: Deeds Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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