Southern Lady Code: Essays

Helen Ellis. Doubleday, $22 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-54389-7
A vibrant storyteller with a penchant for the perverse, Ellis pivots from short stories (American Housewife) to nonfiction in this ribald collection of essays on manners, morals, and marriage, all colored by her off-kilter Alabama upbringing. From Marie Kondo’s tidying-up magic to Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers and being a teenager in the 1980s, Ellis’s sharp eye for pop-culture preoccupations inspires smart-mouthed provocations. She humorously describes her 23-year-old self in Manhattan on her way to a date “with a panty liner stuck to my back. Yes, it was used,” and discusses happy couples and three-ways; the difference between gay men and Southern Effeminate men who “wear seersucker and bow ties... [and] collect salt shakers and cookie jars”; and being a good airline passenger (“I wipe down the [toilet] seat like I’m giving it a tetanus shot”). Ellis shares her mother’s etiquette advice for handling street crime (“Always carry money for a mugger—three one-dollar bills wrapped in a five... then throw the money and run screaming Officer down!”), and tells of her father staging pretend gun violence to liven up a birthday party. Ellis is a strong, vivid writer—and this book is gut-busting funny. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 04/16/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-9848-4085-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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