Sunday, June 14, 2015

After A While

Do you secretly watch reality television shows about hoarders or people with bizarre eating habits so that you can feel better about your own living space or eating habits? Have you ever attended a support group and thought to yourself, "Well, I may have this problem, but at least I'm not as bad as THAT person!"? If so, Gwendolyn Knapp's memoir, After a While You Just Get Used To It is the book for you!

Less Cousin Eddy (from the Vacation series of films) and more the feeling of TMI (too much information), I didn't find Knapp's memoir as "hilarious" and "side-splitting" as many other readers seem to have found it. It left me feeling a bit squeamish at times for being witness to a little too much "family clutter".

Knapp's writing style is crisp; her vocabulary is earthy and raw. It will punch you in the gut in a few places. But it does grab you and take you along for the ride. I did find myself smiling in a few places even though, in the end, much of the intended humor fell flat for me.

Thanks to Shelf Awareness for the free copy I received in exchange for this review.

From the Publisher . . .

A dive bar palm reader who calls herself the Disco Queen Taiwan; a slumlord with a penis-of-the-day LISTSERV; and Betty, the middle-aged Tales of the Cocktail volunteer who soils her pants on a party bus and is dealt with in the worst possible way. These are just a few of the unforgettable characters who populate Gwendolyn Knapp’s hilarious and heartbreaking—yet ultimately uplifting—memoir debut, After a While You Just Get Used to It.

Growing up in a dying breed of eccentric Florida crackers, Knapp thought she had it rough—what with her pack rat mother, Margie; her aunt Susie, who has fewer teeth than prison stays; and Margie’s bipolar boyfriend, John. But not long after Knapp moves to New Orleans, Margie packs up her House of Hoarders and follows along. As if Knapp weren’t struggling enough to keep herself afloat, working odd jobs and trying to find love while suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, the thirty-year-old realizes that she’s never going to escape her family’s unendingly dysfunctional drama.

Knapp honed her writing chops and distinctive Southern Gothic–humor style writing short pieces and participating in the renowned reading series Literary Death Match. Now, like bestselling authors Jenny Lawson, Laurie Notaro, and Julie Klausner before her, Knapp bares her sad and twisted life for readers everywhere to enjoy.

About the Author . . .

Gwendolyn Knapp holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina. Her fiction has appeared in Crazyhorse and Quarterly West, and her nonfiction has appeared in The Southeast Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Best Creative Nonfiction Vol. 2, and She also had a notable essay mention in The Best American Essays 2013. Knapp lives in New Orleans, where her mother also relocated in 2010, along with tons of her junk.

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