Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Helen Ellis writes about her first story collection, American Housewife, out today from Doubleday.
If the stories in American Housewife were a to-do list…
“What I Do All Day” would be a craft project. It would be made of Popsicle sticks and pinecones, and spray-painted gold. It would be designed to hang from a light fixture above your dining room table. Guests could swat at it like a cat toy. The guest who swats it down onto the chicken carcass would get first crack at dessert.
“The Wainscoting War” would be a manifesto. It would be written on an iPhone in the parking lot of a dry cleaner’s. It would be the start of a blog about what’s wrong with the world. This first post would be about dry cleaning solution. It stinks. It stinks so badly that as soon as you get home from the dry cleaner’s you hole up in your closet to inhale it off a cardigan like super glue out of a paper sack.
“Dumpster Diving With the Stars” would be a twenty-minute walk. Just twenty minutes a day, and heart attacks and obesity are things of the past!
“Southern Lady Code” would be a beauty regime. There are seven steps. There are tools: brushes and a spatula. To maximize anti-aging benefits, every step should be applied with the backs of your hands. In a vigorous! Upward! Thrusting motion!
“Hello! Welcome to Book Club” would be a phone call to your mother. You owe your mother a phone call. No, email doesn’t count. A phone call is the least you can do.
“The Fitter” would be a trip to the supermarket. You’re out of Triscuits, Pledge and cat food. You think you have paper towels, but you’d better buy another 8-pack. The same goes for toilet paper. So what if your bathroom cabinet looks like a janitor’s closet? What if there’s a storm? The supermarket wine aisle is terrible, but again, better safe than sorry! Add to your list: buy a couple of bottles in case you can’t get to the fancy wine store where the guy in the apron and muttonchops always pushes the Cotes Du Rhône.
“How to Be a Grown-Ass Lady” would be take out the recycling. Yes, the garbage man will judge you. But, you have to get rid of that 30-gallon Hefty of empty bottles that looks like Santa’s bag of broken dreams.
“How to Be a Patron of the Arts” would be clean the bathroom. That means sink, tub, tiles, and toilet. And you have to clean around the toilet. You have to get on your hands and knees for this. Wear those kneepads your mother gave you for just this occasion. Have you called her yet? You owe your mother a call.
“Dead Doormen” would be change the cat litter. Yes, everybody poops. And you know this because the litter box is in your bathroom. Add to your to-do list: toilet-train the cat.
“Pageant Protection” would be Google a ghost hunter. The one you’ve got keeps drinking your Cotes Du Rhône.
“Take it from Cats” would be to replace the bedroom overhead light bulb. Yes, you have to get the ladder out of the closet. So, get the ladder out of the closet. Climb the ladder. Screw in the light bulb. Or else that ghost you’ve got will surprise you and sit on your head like the cat.
“My Novel is Brought to You by the Good People at Tampax” would be download the new podcast called “American Housewife.” Listening to some lady wax poetic about what she can accomplish with the power of insomnia and OCD, while you drink and confess your deepest, darkest secrets to a toilet brush, will make your to-do list go that much faster.
HELEN ELLIS is the acclaimed author of Eating the Cheshire Cat. She is a poker player who competes on the national tournament circuit. Raised in Alabama, she lives with her husband in New York City. One of the stories in American Housewife, “What I Do All Day,” was originally published in Monkeybicycle. Follow her on Twitter at @Helen_Ellis or (as American Housewife) @WhatIDoAllDay.