Published by iUniverse, Inc 2009
Reviewed by Penne J. Laubenthal
I have been a huge fan of humor in journalism for over thirty years. I particularly enjoy those southern humorists who follow in the footsteps of Mark Twain. In the seventies, I devoured the works of Lewis Grizzard, Roy Blount, William Price Fox, Florence King, and Blanche McCrary Boyd (well, Boyd's book The Redneck Way of Knowledge is like journalism). Now award-winning columnist Kelly Kazek has joined the ranks of the great southern humorists with her hilarious collection of essays: Fairly Odd Mother: Musings of a Slightly Off Southern Mom. I laughed my head off when I read her book. Kazek is better than Xanax and a heck of a lot more fun.
What makes Fairly Odd Mother so delightful is Kazek's refreshing approach to time-worn subjects like donning panty hose, figuring out men, rearing a teenager, and the joys of being owned by pets. Kazek's book is chock full of such sage advice as " Never let a man see you put on control top panty hose (or for that matter, take them off. Someone could get hurt.)" The book is a delightful romp through small town southern life with a laugh a minute.
The essays in the book are divided into four sections: Section 1 "So That's what grownups do all day--it ain't easy bein cool when your name is Mom," Section 2 "Thongs get in your eye and other hazards of life," Section 3 "This #*&! From New York City!?!...," and Section 4: "Lucy's got some splainin' to do."
On the topic of teaching a teenager to drive, Kazak observes that "It took Shannon three years to learn to color inside the lines, and now the state thinks that one year is enough for her to learn to drive inside the lines---and the stakes are higher." In one essay she rapsodizes about the awesomeness of seventies music--ie, "MacArthur Park," Kazek says, "Rather than admit to Shannon I spent the better part of my 12th year singing lyrics that could be construed as the ravings of a rabies-infected Julia Child, I tried to give them meaning." In another essay, she declares "YMCA" to be an "inherently dangerous" song, especially if played in a moving vehicle.
When reading Kazek, I am reminded of Erma Bombeck and Judith Viorst and all those wonderful writers who made me feel so much better about being a mother, homemaker, and career woman in the second half of the 20th century. They taught me to how to laugh at myself. Kazek laughs at herself, and we laugh along with her. Life is too short to be taken too seriously. Give me a good laugh any day.
I cannot provide a better recommendation for the book than Kazek did herself. She writes, "The mayor, the police captain, and the checker at the Piggly Wiggly said the book is 'laugh-out-loud funny' and 'uproariously clever.' You should buy it." I concur.