Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vintage Novels {Please Don't Eat the Daisies}

Playwright Jean Kerr's 1957 best-selling collection of essays was so funny to read, I had to get off the bus because I was laughing so hard. There's no plot or arc connecting the essays, which are about motherhood, writing, redecorating without having a nervous breakdown, being the wife of a critic and a couple of parodies of popular literary genres. Mrs. Kerr begins her collection with an introduction explaining that she first started writing as a career in order to earn enough money to hire a maid/nanny so that she could fulfill her life's ambition -having a job that would allow her to sleep-in in the morning. And really, isn't this everyone's ambition and we just lie in job interviews?
I don't think I'll be able to pick a favourite essay or cartoon (it's illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Carl Rose). But amongst my favourites are her essay about how dogs are attracted to her, the ones about her unruly children and the pressure felt by her and her friends to decorate their homes correctly and the agony they go through looking at fabric selections. The most useful essay has to be her guide to selecting the right producer for your play, which is still a helpful guide nowadays and must be read if you think you might write a play one of these days.
The book was loosely, and I mean loosely adapted into a movie in 1960. It's an okay movie and the costumes are good, but I think that David Niven was miscast as the drama critic husband and Doris Day is really annoying as the perfect housewife, but it's worth watching for Janis Paige's role.
However, the book is much funnier, it's quite short and an excellent cultural record too and should be at your local library.

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