Book talk: ‘Cursing Mommy,’ Florida mystery

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The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days, by Ian Frazier.

‘Cursing Mommy’ is gosh darn hilarious

Give the Cursing Mommy some credit. She actually makes it through the first paragraph of her new book, The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days, without cursing even once; though, it must be said that in the second $*!ing paragraph she is compelled to rail about the $*!ing kitchen ceiling.

The ceiling is only one of the many trials of the Cursing Mommy, hilarious creation of former Hudson resident Ian Frazier, two-time winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

Mommy’s goal is to live graciously, spiritually, in tune with the glory of nature, marveling at the promise of children and responsibility toward the environment, and sharing it all with us, her loyal unseen friends. It is very difficult to reach such a goal when one’s older son has gone off his meds (Ridiculin, for one) and burned down the $*#ing garage; one’s husband’s salary has been reduced (by a boss who has been sending lewd propositions by text message) and one has accidentally placed an online order for 156 %)#ing coats, resulting in an $8,973.63 credit card overdraft.

Mommy, frequently either excessively caffeinated or wondering if her readers, too, have their first cocktail at 8:15 a.m., wishes to share with us her dodgy domestic talents, such as mending clothes or making a portfolio for family photos; they inevitably result in Mommy’s abandoning the whole %#^ing thing and shrieking curses at “hammock lobbyists” or Ronald Reagan (“I don’t &*!ing care if he %^*ing died!”).

Though the format is a series of journal entries, the book is a continuous blue-streak narrative, with established themes that grow more ludicrous. A school levy has failed, so families must do building maintenance, like cleaning the !%# boiler room or the fourth-grade project, electrical wiring. Oh, and Mommy’s husband Larry may have invested the family’s life savings in a Nigerian dump.

Utterly, hilariously beaten, as desperate as a housewife can be, with a motto: “Oh, what a ^#%ing horrible day this has been,” the Cursing Mommy made two appearances in Lamentations of the Father, Frazier’s 2009 essay collection, and often is featured in a column he writes for the New Yorker.

The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days (244 pages, hardcover) costs $25 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Look in the fiction section, instead of humor. Ian Frazier is an alumnus of Western Reserve Academy.

Mystery in Miami

Lima-born mystery author Don Bruns alternates between two breezy series: Caribbean, about rock journalist Mick Sever, and Stuff, about a couple of Florida private eyes with more enthusiasm than experience. Hot Stuff, sixth in the latter series, finds James Lessor and Skip Moore, principals of More or Less Investigations, sweating it out in a fancy Miami restaurant whose ambitious sous chef has been murdered.

Skip, the narrator, and James are engaged by the owner, a publicity-conscious celebrity chef, and his overbearing wife to go undercover in the kitchen to listen to gossip and grill the other employees. James, with a culinary school background, is placed as the new sous chef — potentially endangering him, if the killer was someone who had hoped to advance to that position. LeBron James makes a cameo appearance.

Hot Stuff (285 pages, hardcover) costs $25.95 from Oceanview Publishing.

Footnotes

• The gently humorous reminiscences of a Catholic schoolgirl in the 1950s are found in Sister Said by Lee A. Friend of Cuyahoga Falls. Her wide-eyed devotion to every pronouncement of her Ursuline teachers eventually caused her mother to issue a cease-and-desist order on the repetition of everything “Sister said.” The 122-page paperback costs $11.99 from online retailers and also is available at Grismer’s religious goods stores.

• Local authors including former Beacon Journal columnist David Giffels, who interviewed Black Keys member Dan Auerbach, join undergraduate and graduate students, as well as community contributors, in the fourth issue of Rubbertop Review, the University of Akron’s literary journal. With the theme of “Ohio Connections,” this issue also contains an interview with Josh Rolnick, author of the award-winning story collection Pulp and Paper, poetry and short fiction. Get the $5 issue from Eric Wasserman at UA’s Department of English, Olin Hall, Akron 44325-1906.

 

Events

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Authors Mayra Porrata and Crystal Pirri, and illustrator Kaleb Rice, sign Return to Planet Nuf, 2 p.m. today.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers (28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere) — Laura Taxel signs Cleveland’s West Side Market, 2 p.m. today.

Malone University (Cattell Library, 515 25th St. NW, Canton) — The Writers Series continues with poet Brett Foster (The Garbage Eater), 7 p.m. Monday.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (60 S. High St., Akron) — Anne Lamott (Operating Instructions, Imperfect Birds) appears as part of the Main Event Speaker Series, 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Mike DeCapite, author of the essay collection Radiant Fog, reads and signs, 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday; Gail Bellamy signs Cleveland Christmas Memories, 1 to 2 p.m. Friday.

Wild Bird Center (117 Merz Blvd, Fairlawn) — Julie Zickefoose, creator of exquisite wildlife paintings and author of The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds, signs her work, 11 a.m. Saturday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma Heights branch, 6206 Pearl Road) — Gail Bellamy signs Cleveland Christmas Memories, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Registration required; call 440-884-2313.

Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — New Philadelphia native Kara Martinelli signs My Very Dearest Anna: My Grandparents’ Letters from WWII, 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

— Barbara McIntyre

Special to the Beacon Journal

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.


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