Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar by Kelly Oxford

Everyone has their one "quirk" genre in their favorites list. For some, it's something basic, like sports novels, or novels set in a particular place, like Paris or your hometown. For others, it's those mystery series where the protagonist is a cat. Regardless, everyone's partial to their own particular brand of entertainment. My genre is - and probably always will be - comedy memoirs. So when I saw that Kelly Oxford's Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar ebook was on sale for Kindle, I jumped headfirst.

Kelly Oxford is a comedy screenwriter and mother of three from Canada whose internet stardom effortlessly translated into this hilarious memoir book of essays, Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar. Charting her comedic rise, from youthful ambition to stoner teenager-dom, to dodging the life of a widowed waitress, to taking her kids to Disneyland, Kelly just can't stop herself from telling the truth... and while her life may not be perfect, it sure is funny.

The genre of comedian memoirs has its variations. Some are actual, stand-up, on-stage comedians - like Steve Martin - and others found their ground as practiced comedy writers for either television or print - like Tina Fey- and some are even a hybrid of both, like my personal goddesses, Mindy Kaling and Chelsea Handler. Some are funny, like you'd expect them to be, while others choose instead to detail their personal journeys towards humor, which, more often than not, contain a fair amount of tragedy as well. Any and all are beloved by me.

Oxford manages to convey both the sad and the glorious in equal measure, detailing some of the most excruciating, awkward, terrible, train-wreck tragic parts of her life... by telling them in a way that keeps you laughing. (And not just "blowing a little harder through your nose" laughing. I mean full-on "makes people opt out of sitting next to you on public transportation" laughing.)

Everything about these memoirs are flawless. There isn't even a single aspect of her writing style I would have rather done without: her profanity and unabashed fondness for the inappropriate make her sense of humor comparable to Chelsea Handler; however, there's a distinct difference in comedic timing. Oxford's knack for the cramped confines of a well-delivered tweet translates into line after line of simmering humor that boils up to a well-organized story arc for each essay. There's no space wasted with filler or unnecessary material... if you're not laughing, it's because you've died laughing.

However, the book does have its reflective, tender moments, between all of the chuckles. From a call home to her mom from her elementary school office, or the calm of a car ride home with her dad after a wild teenage party, to her brief time spent assisting the elderly, Oxford puts the "art" in "heart" by sneaking the sentimentality in between curse words and anecdotes about poop.

Just read "An Open Letter to the Nurse Who Gave Me an Enema Bottle and Told Me to Do it Myself While I Was High on Morphine," and you'll be hooked. I promise.

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