In the short story collection, “American Housewife: Stories,” Helen Ellis provides us with a hilarious and poignant glimpse into the quirky and horrifying lives of women of all kinds. From a murderous superintendent’s wife to book clubs to reality television, the silly coincides with the very real emotions and feelings of the modern day gal. I saw myself in more than one of her characters and it frightened me a little. That is what makes Ellis’ writing so powerful.
Twelve stories in all, each unique in their message, subject matter, and even style. The Wainscoting War, told through a series of back and forth passive aggressive emails between two New York apartment tenants, takes an ugly and disturbing turn, but still remains relatable, if not grotesquely so. How To Be a Grown-Ass Lady and Take It From The Cats (laughed out loud while reading this gem) read like short, pithy how-to guides. And in the recognizable classic short story form, an author struggling with her mediocrity goes on a dumpster diving reality show and partners up with a playboy playmate—who turns out to be the most sympathetic character of all.
Each and every story is cleverly written and undeniably entertaining, and at the same time, provides a very real commentary on current American pop culture. Laughter, tears, anger, and disbelief—be prepared for an emotionally charged reading experience that I think will resonate with millennials, baby boomers, and everyone in between. Ellis has created an honest, modern, feminist read for the ages.