Its a well worn truism that nothing, but nothing is stranger, uglier or more beautiful than real life. While us Britishers are obsessed with the kitchen sink, delighting in soap operas in which the stunted snaggletoothed working class hatch Machiavellian conspiracies over beans on toast, our American cousins like to somewhat polish the proverbial turd, exporting shows where people so attractive that they actually look a bit weird blather endlessly about their ‘relationships’ while consuming endless things despite having no visible means of income.
Its very refreshing therefore to receive the occasional despatch from the pen of Kelly Froh, whose tales of everyday life in suburban Seattle never flinch from conveying the unremitting futility of all human endeavour. Over the past few years I’ve done a couple of transatlantic swaps with Froh, and always received a bundle of consistent excellence, so much so in fact that I’ve had to boil it down to a few favourites.
The Cheapest SOBs relates Froh’s Grandparents incredible cheapness, from the lovably eccentric (making snoopy lawn decorations out of two plastic milk cartons) to the frankly shocking, (going to cancer survivor meetings to get a free lunch).
The Five Year Itch of Dorothy Barry is the delightful tale of a demented and occasionally violent old woman living in a retirement home. An object lesson in how sometimes the most insufferable maniacs can grow to become much loved personalities.
Debbie’s Story. A depressingly resonant tale of a life badly lived.
Stew Brew. A collaboration with Max Clotfelter that tells the story of their childhood and early adolescence through the TV shows they watched. Even though I don’t know any of the shows they talk about I (as part of the generation for which TV was both third parent and spiritual mentor) could strongly identify with this.
And finally my favourite The Former Room Mates of Gary Jones. This little book will be much loved by anyone who has ever had to share a living space with anyone. Each page is a portrait of the room mate accompanied by a small detail about the persons behaviour, yet this alone is enough to conjure up a fully fledged character real enough to make you almost remember meeting them in real life. Examples include ‘He punched and broke my fish tank’ and ‘Picked at his face for hours in the bathroom after getting high’. Pure Genius!
So there you have it don’t just sit there, go to http://kellyfroh.blogspot.co.uk and find out more!