Today’s guest post is the first in a new feature from our friend Sara called “Bad Chick Lit, Good Times”. Sara will brave the waters of chick lit and do her best to summarize these books with considerably more efficiency than the people who write this blog are able to do. Fun Bad Books, Good Times fact: Sara’s the one who gave us her copy of Fifty Shades of Grey so we could start this blog! I don’t know if she wants the internet to know she owned a copy of that book, but sorry, Sara, you’re in the club now.
This first book is 2003’s Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews, which Amazon describes as a “comic Southern novel” about a woman whose husband unexpectedly leaves her one night, so she decides to tell everyone he’s on a business trip. Apparently. I’m clearly already in over my head. Here’s Sara.
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I first realized Mary Kay Andrews’ Little Bitty Lies would drive me a nuts when I read the protagonist, Mary Bliss McGowan’s response to a shortage of tonic water, half a bottle of gin, fresh limes, and a friend in need of cheering up: “Why don’t we just switch to beer?” I thought it couldn’t get worse, then she said “Why don’t we just call it a night?”
Oh, bless your heart. (I mean that in the most Southern, least sincere sense possible.)
Thank God for MB’s neighbor and best friend, Katharine Weidman, who met our ostensible heroine when the aforementioned fun sucker informed her that a thong bikini was inappropriate for a children’s swim meet at a country club. She insists that they go get more tonic water, and also insists on frank terminology when she and Mary Bliss, who prefers prissier phrasing, witness a neighbor in the process of a divorce having a little fun in a car in the Winn-Dixie parking lot.
She is also the source of such gems as, “Mama always said the sign of a lady’s breeding was in her chicken salad,” and declares of her straying husband that she wouldn’t take him back “even if he showed up with a twelve carat diamond and a twelve-inch penis and knew what to do with it”. Clearly, she is the only reason to keep reading past page three.
Equally inappropriate but less entertaining are MB’s analogies, which Katharine calls “aneurysms”, maybe because her friend, supposedly a former English major, causes them every time she opens her mouth. See, Mary Bliss loves the English language. Which is why she says, “A marriage is like a pet poodle,” and argues for Katharine to return to her husband by continuing with, “It may be old and blind and make tee-tee all over the rug in the den, but it’s got a life force of its own.” There’s respect for the English language if I ever saw it.
Her seventeen-year-old daughter Erin, simultaneously an attachment-parenting cautionary tale who sleeps in her parents’ bed when one of them is away and a normal teenager with a social life, reminds Mary Bliss of “a newly-hatched duckling”. This particularly awkward analogy/aneurysm is the last one before Mary Kay Andrews drops a bomb in our heroine’s lap.
I imagine Mary Bliss is the only one who is at completely surprised that her husband Parker has left without a trace, that the business trip that allows her to continue co-sleeping with her nearly-adult daughter is not a business trip at all but an attempt to escape his stick-in-the-mud, gin-hating, analogy-abusing wife and his possibly feathered and web-footed spawn. Oh, and Mary Bliss thought this was a “normal, happy marriage”.
He’s also taken all the money and left Mary Bliss with nothing but the house, a teaching job that won’t pay the bills, and a baby duck/high school senior. At least he left a note?
I recommend some sweet tea (or maybe a mint julep – after all, one does have to get into the regional spirit of these things) and a few deep breaths. This can only get more painful.