Saturday, June 03, 2017

Reader's Diary #1600 - Nancy Gardiner: Hairy Leg News

The description on the back of Nancy Gardiner's Hairy Leg News claims that this northern memoir is written in the "dry style of Erma Bombeck." Not having read any Bombeck before, I still wasn't sure what to expect and not many pages in, I wasn't sure it was a style that would appeal to me.

While the chapters are given broad themes, it's largely a collection of quick and often disjointed observations and recollections. Perhaps it's that quick pace that kept me moving forward and despite myself, enjoying it more as I went along.

It used to be the case that whenever someone new moved north there was a good chance they'd start up a blog, regularly updated with their newest experiences and insights. (Facebook, I think, has largely eliminated those, but still pretty much accomplishes the same.) No one really expected these to be "high literature" but they served their purpose in educating and entertaining their readers.

Likewise with Gardiner's Hairy Leg News. If someone is looking to know what life is truly like in the north (or can be; I acknowledge that everyone's experience is different), there'd be a lot worse places to turn than Hairy Leg News. Many passages are uniquely northern while others could be anywhere and it's that latter, but nonetheless important component that many northern books miss. Plus Gardiner's aww-shucks, self-deprecating approach keeps the whole thing light and engaging. It's as unpretentious as the north.

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