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American Housewife

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  13,801 ratings  ·  2,200 reviews
A sharp, funny, delightfully unhinged collection of stories set in the dark world of domesticity, American Housewife features murderous ladies who lunch, celebrity treasure hunters, and the best bra fitter south of the Mason Dixon line.

Meet the women of American Housewife: they wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it's cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. They
ebook, 208 pages
Published January 12th 2016 by Doubleday
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Average rating 3.37  · 
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 ·  13,801 ratings  ·  2,200 reviews

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Iris P

American Housewife: Stories

Ok so American Housewife: Stories didn't cut it for me. I couldn't connect with the whole "Stepford Wife" theme that runs through the 12 stories included in this collection.

Although some of them were slightly entertaining, I didn't find them particularly funny, at best they elicited a sarcastic smirk on my face.

The concept of writing short fiction using dark, unhinged female characters in a domestic setting was pretty clever, but something was missing for me.

I think
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I love the irreverence of these stories but so many of them feel quite similar and read like notes toward something rather than satisfying stories. There are a couple real highlights. The Fitter is unforgettable, as are Welcome to Book Club and Dead Doormen. My favorite story was Dumpster Diving with the Stars. Definitely worth reading.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, own
"The secret to keeping brown sugar from getting hard is storing it with a marshmallow. I put the first batch of oatmeal raisin in the oven and then return my attention to Eddie. I turn on my radio. Dismemberment and freezing are the priorities."

The last collection of short stories I read was George Saunders' Tenth of December back in 2013. It's not a genre that I'm super comfortable reading. In fact, I've read more essay collections, which is strange to me as my reading diet mostly consists
Diane S ☔
Oct 11, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 At times amusing, catty, ironic, filled with irritating women, women who want their way regardless of the cost, and some with deeper meanings underneath the humor. I have three favorites, The Wainscoting War, a decorating war the goes too far. Dumpster diving with the stars, a comedic look at the publics penchant for reality TV shows. Lastly, The Fitter, the best bra fitter around who happens to be male and his wife who despite some major problems will do anything to hold onto her man. If I ...more
♡ Kim ♡
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so this one started off strong. I was loving the sarcastic, witty humor, but then it fell flat. About two-thirds in, I debated on giving up but decided to push through because I did not want to give up on it so close to the end. I wish I could rate the short stories separately because a couple definitely earned 5 stars. For those stories, I wish I owned a copy opposed to borrowing from the library, so that I could highlight and tab pages to go back to when I need a pick me up - yes, they wer ...more
Don't let my three-star review deter you from reading this book. It's plenty entertaining - witty, mischievous, and arch. The stories mostly involve wicked twists on feminine stereotypes, as in some of my favorites highlighted below:

"Dumpster Diving With the Stars" - what happens when a long-blocked author books a gig on a kind of reality show version of American Pickers, along with some celebrity scientologists, Mario Batali, a Napoleonic host nicknamed "F'in Tiny," and a sad Playmate partner w
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ew
3 1/2 stars. American Housewife is a short collection of short stories. In one way or another, the stories focus on contemporary American housewives. The women are either based in the South or in New York City. They have varying degrees of engagement with their domestic situations. They are often trying -- and rarely succeeding -- to write novels. In contrast, Helen Ellis sure can write. Her prose is clever, twisted, full of irony and attention catching. Her stories are edgy and often a tad surr ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
As an English housewife-of-sorts, I really loved this collection of short stories. I’ve been contemplating lately that a lot of the reading I do just isn’t fun any more. This is fun.

There’s satire, comedy, pathos and absurdity. Not every book needs to be beautifully lyrical or over analytical. Sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves and these stories generally worked for me on that score.

Not to mention the guide on how to be a cat, it’s perfect. Thank you Helen Ellis for the laughs you’ve given
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
The theme the southern housewives and the New York housewives
The book clubs

Sentences as sharp as razors and nails
The last bit of every section leaves you wondering and thinking, sometimes in shock and sometimes laughing at what just happened.

We deal with wars among neighbours on the same floor... a decorating war that takes many other faces and shapes.

We read about celebrity dumpster divers and its satirical view about reality tv and pop culture.

The stories are refreshing like a c
Brittany (UnderTheRadarBooks)
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I loved every second of this. I couldn't help but cheer on all of these fierce females. Hilarious and dark at the same time, highly recommended! ...more
Petra X living life blissfully,not through books!
I want to read this book. I don't read a lot of short stories but this book came to me in some publicity from my main supplier and sounded quite good. It's not released until 16th January but already has a 141 ratings and 62 reviews so it must be good. Right? Well hopefully.

I did review this book, or wrote about it anyway when I first added it as 'want to read'. However it was flagged after several months of it being up and Goodreads deleted it. I don't quite understand why it was against their
Bark  |  Ladies Of Horror Fiction
This review and the rest of the crap I write can be seen @ my blog Bark's Book Nonsense . Stop by and say hey.

I grab almost every audio available to me and prefer to go in blind when I can. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t and I end up with nightmares (I’m pointing at you, Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates). When I started American Housewife, I had some vague memory of someone somewhere saying it was a memoir and I started reading it with glee because these people were horrid and I l
Melissa Rochelle
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This collection of short stories is chock-full of quirky, creepy, clever women. I can't imagine someone not seeing themselves in at least one of these characters. I read several stories multiple times and plan on reading a few of my favorites again once this gem of a collection is published in January. I think the shortest stories are my favorites -- they pack a big punch in just a couple of pages (especially "Southern Lady Code", "What I Do All Day", and "Take It From Cats").

I was reminded of
Book Riot Community
Since I work from home and have caregiving responsibilities for my family, I feel in some ways a kinship to the American housewives in Helen Ellis’ short story collection. Ellis is a gifted writer and somehow manages to unify the diverse experiences of women who stay at home. Her collection is at once hysterical as it is bittersweet. And at under 190 pages in a petite size, American Housewife is a satisfying single-sitting read. File this one away for your next readathon.

— Sarah S. Davis

from The
I'll be damned if I know why this is in my queue. This is a chick book (I'm not) & I don't indulge in mind altering drugs. I must have been in a really quirky mood. Since the alternative is aliens or early onset dementia, I'll go with quirky.

What I do all day -- is just that. Pointless, just a quick outline of a day in the life of a boring woman. She doesn't even have a pet. Not very funny. Not a good way to start. 2 stars

The wainscoting war -- Emails show just how a common area between 2 apartm
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

"'You are so bad!' is Southern Lady Code for: That is the tackiest thing I've ever heard, and I am delighted that you shared it with me." -- Helen Ellis, page 74

An eclectic collection of a dozen short stories and/or vignettes from the author of the very funny Southern Lady Code from earlier this year. (This inspiration for that recent book is likely to have come from the brief 'Southern Lady Code' essay in the middle of Housewife.) Ellis skillfully boomerangs from long-form comedy ('Dum
Sammy Talbot
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I found some of the stories in this collection quite entertaining, but the majority of them were lost on me.
I liked how some of the stories each had a character who was a writer in some way. And I did like the author's writing in general, just some stories were a lot better than others. * means the stories I most enjoyed and/or found most interesting.

What I Do All Day - 2.5/5
The Wainscoting War - 1/5
Dumpster Diving with the Stars - 3.75/5
Southern Lady Code - 1/5
*Hello! Welcome to Book Club - 3.5/5
*The Fitter - 3.5/5
How To Be a Grown-Ass Lady - 3/5
How To Be A Patron of the Arts - 2.5/5
*Dead Doorm
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This is meant to be a sarcastic look at the American wife, but I didn’t find many of the characters or situations that funny or relatable. The humor was often pretty low-brow and the characters more caricature, giving this the feel of a bad sit-com. There was maybe one story that I liked. At least it was short.
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
My husband sometimes makes the capital mistake of asking me "What did you today?" when he gets home from HIS workday. After making the nth Peggy Bundy crack, I am running out of sarcastic retorts so I was very happy to find new material in Helen Ellis' tongue-in-cheek essay, What I do all day, from her hilarious, sharp, and deliciously dark story collection, American Housewife.

In The Wainscoting War, a series of email exchanges between neighbors in an uptight Manhattan Co-op reminded me ruefull
Nov 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Take a look at the American Housewife on the book’s cover and at first glance, it’s reminiscent of the artwork you’d see in the 1950s – from Betty Crocker, for example. But view closer and it’s obvious that this housewife has ATTITUDE, despite her hair curlers and Emory board. You can see it in her skimpy bikini panties, her bright orange nightshirt, her poise.

American Housewife has attitude. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Take the first story: “I hop in the shower and assure myself t
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)

Short story collection filled with cynicism, wit, and diabolical charm. While I'm not a Southerner, I found myself engrossed in the drama presented. Some of the shorts fit more as how-to guides, like "How To Be a Grown-Ass Lady". While others bite at the veneer rich housewives enjoy, like "Dead Doormen."

Overall, the book's worth a read. You'll laugh at ridiculous and morbid rivalries ("The Wainscoting War"). You'll feel a bit sad ("The Fitter"). You'll wonder about book clubs ("Hello! Welcome
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone... but especially my bookclub
Recommended to Amy by: Melissa Rochelle
[edit 4/6/2020: the essay previous linked is no longer available on Tin House except in an audio recording so I've swapped it into the link]
Update 4/8/2020: reread and realized I liked every story. They're more than a little subversive (and likely tread the line a little to close for what is ok for humor) but I laughed at every one. My favorite is either "Dumpster Diving With the Stars" or "Dead Doormen" but I also think "The Fitter" is pitch perfect dark humor.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the book to beat the winter time blues! A 4.5 rounded down.

OK, so I'm the target audience, maybe a little older but all the stories hit my funny bone in that "you're so bad" way (re: Southern translations). Who wouldn't want to know a perfect bra fitter, male or female? Be careful of joining book clubs if you're a recent college graduate with a mountain of debt. And, ahem, once my husband was president of the HOA. I need a wooden stool!

The only bad thing I can say about this is that it
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
These are a small collection of perfectly sharp, short stories written by your most clever Tumblr friend. An escalating war on interior design, magical bra fitters, the novel sponsored by Tampax and a sadly, all-too-plausible reality show called Dumpster Diving with the Stars. A light bit of confection that was altogether a hoot to read.
I'm going to start my review with a couple disclaimers. 1) I have been put on a project at work that requires no audio so I can listen to audiobooks at work now. That means that I listened to this entire book in a single night. 2) Because I am listening to them at work, there are times when I'm not focusing entirely and sometimes I get interrupted before I can pause. So I will likely only be listening to "whatever" books and nothing that I am dying to read. 3) I only listened to this because I'm ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
When I came across this line -- I fix myself a hot chocolate because it is a gateway drug to reading. -- in the first story, I knew it was love.

Ellis' collection of short stories are brisk, funny, and snarky. They go down dangerously easy and you may, like me, embarrass yourself then with some snirking, snickering, and outright laughter when in public. And like a lovely, boozy Sunday brunch with friends, I have no regrets.

The stories all focus on a certain type of married American woman, Souther
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Snarky social commentary with a flair for the bizarre, Helen Ellis’ American Housewife is brutally hilarious. It’s written from multiple perspectives, in various voices ranging from dueling, vicious housewives to a leader of a cult-like book club, to a struggling author held hostage by Tampax. These stories rip apart the manicured, corseted, perfectly polished picture of an American housewife and unleash the pent-up fury resulting from suffocating social norms and mores.
Ellis slices through the
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
On point and wickedly funny! An excellent collection of stories about different types of women. More of a modern housewife but something everyone can relate to, I think. I thought it would all be about women with kids but it wasn't. Some of the characters were very specific wives but others were just women who were married. I hope that distinction makes sense. All the way around a strong viewpoint on women's roles in the home or in society. I loved it from beginning to end and I think any woman ...more
Tyler Goodson
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
Some of these stories are sharp like a razor blade in a cupcake--so cute and sweet until they rip you to shreds. Some are lighter, with observations punchy enough to knock you out. The whole book, though, is zingy and mirthful and made me laugh more than any book I can remember. I loved it.
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HELEN ELLIS is the author of American Housewife and Eating the Cheshire Cat.Raised in Alabama, she lives with her husband in New York City.

You can find her on Twitter @WhatIDoAllDay and Instagram @AmericanHousewife.

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“Take it from cats

If someone moves to make room for you, take up more room. If someone is looking over there, there’s something to see. If somebody sneezes, run. If someone brings a bag into your home, look inside it. If you don’t want someone to leave, sit on his suitcase. Clean between your toes. Flaunt your full figure. Hide loose change. Even though you can take care of yourself, it’s okay to let someone be nice to you. It’s fine to take a nap on the laundry. If you stand in a kitchen long enough, someone will feed you. If you’re alone in bed, use all the pillows. Just because it’s gorgeous outside doesn’t mean you have to go outside. Just because you can fit into something tight doesn’t mean that you belong in it. If you trust someone, open yourself like a cheap umbrella. If you want to be left alone, park yourself in a closet. If you want to surprise someone, lie in a bathtub and then jerk back the curtain when he sits on the toilet. If you’re not interested, don’t look interested. You don’t have to chase every bird that you see.”
More quotes…