"Add the flour, salt, paprika, and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink."
November 30, 2012 9:56 AM   Subscribe

There's a particular sort of humor writer I like. Can you recommend more books in this style? Mid-century, writing about domestic matters, female, personal.

I'm fond of:

Erma Bombeck
Jean Kerr
Shirley Jackson
Betty MacDonald
Peg Bracken

Who else should I be reading? Nothing too recent, so let's say, pre-1980. Must be funny, not too sappy.

I'm especially interested if there were any writers of this housewife style who weren't white.
posted by The corpse in the library to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, dude, you need to read Shirley Jackson's Life Among The Savages. Unlike the rest of her writing, it's very gentle and funny.

You might also enjoy the non-humor but domestic, sometimes comic and personal mid-century writing of MFK Fisher.
posted by Frowner at 9:58 AM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

I also really enjoy this subgenre. If you've already read all of Betty MacDonald, and you'd be willing to go a bit earlier (early 1900s-1920s), what about Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey's Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on their Toes? The books are a bit different in that the focus is on the kids (who are writing the books), but they include lots of domestic, house-based details, and are extremely funny.
posted by pie ninja at 10:15 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Now that I think about it Life Among The Savages is a pretty terrible and racist title, right? Huh. Maybe never mind then.)
posted by Frowner at 10:28 AM on November 30, 2012

(The book itself doesn't talk about race - which is a let-down in itself - but at least there are none of the creepy portrayals of characters of color that you sometimes find in books from the 1950s, and it doesn't refer to the metaphor in the title.)
posted by Frowner at 10:36 AM on November 30, 2012

Sorry, I don't have any specific recommendations, but I adore Persephone Books and you may just find something that fits your description from their list. Maybe Good Evening, Mrs. Craven?
posted by peripathetic at 10:45 AM on November 30, 2012

M.F.K. Fisher's writing about cooking and more is great. I suggest How to Cook a Wolf.
posted by mlle valentine at 11:01 AM on November 30, 2012

(oops, shoulda seen Frowner beat me to it!)
posted by mlle valentine at 11:01 AM on November 30, 2012

Not mid-century, but someone in the Peg Bracken/Erma Bombeck tradition is Mary Roach. She writes wonderful essays about life on the domestic front.
posted by Elsie at 11:09 AM on November 30, 2012

Earlier than mid-century, but still something you might like - Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield (and the other Provincial Lady titles, and possibly some of her other stuff). Snortingly funny and seems to be the sort of subject matter and tone you're looking for.
posted by you must supply a verb at 11:44 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Phyllis Diller.

Caveat: I've only read her pre-1970 stuff.
posted by worldswalker at 12:58 PM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is a bit different from what you've mentioned, but you might give Fran Lebowitz a try. The tone is very similar to your post title, though she writes more about not writing and about urban life. I've read both Social Studies and Metropolitan Life and laughed out loud, for real.
posted by tuesdayschild at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

You might like Cozy Mysteries. Many of them are themed around food, books, domestic animals, knitting, or antiques.

Try the gentle social satire of Angela Thirkell, early to mid 20th century upper middle class English.
posted by ohshenandoah at 2:25 PM on November 30, 2012

Also came in to say Delafield.
posted by paduasoy at 2:42 PM on November 30, 2012

Elaine Dundy, esp The Dud Avocado and The Old Man and Me. Not all that domestic, but she's funny, in a wicked way.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:01 PM on November 30, 2012

You should try We Took To The Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich.
posted by gudrun at 4:16 PM on November 30, 2012

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