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A book about the people who drive you crazy

“The Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach,” by Lauren Allison and Lisa Perry. Grand Central Publishing, New York. 191 pp. $12.99.
By Cindy Murphy
For the Salisbury Post
Hilarious beach reading ó that’s how I would describe “The Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach and Other Annoying People.”
In this collection of short essays, Lauren Allison and Lisa Perry deftly skewer some of the most annoying people in suburbia. They take on the perfect Brownie leader, the nutrition obsessed mom and the woman with the perfect driving record, as well as many others.
There are no real links among the essays. The characters never mix, but this is really the best structure for this type of work.
Each target seems to be fitted with its own bull’s-eye for Allison and Perry. They quickly shoot down their subject and move on to the next target. Their humor is both observational and exaggerated.
At times, their style seems like an edgier version of Erma Bombeck. The essays are sharp and witty. The volume of essays did surprise me. Who knew there are 50 different types of annoying people?
Some of the annoying people included are very realistic. One of my favorites is “The Couple Who Write the Holiday Letter Telling You How Their Little Timmy Came Up with an Alternative to Fossil Fuels.” I’m pretty sure my family has received this couple’s letter.
One of the examples includes a family with a 7-year-old college graduate, an Olympic gold medalist, a 9-year-old with an alternative to fossil fuels, and a nuclear physicist who is also the reigning Miss Universe. (Gee, I feel like such a failure.) The example is a bit extreme, but hilarious nonetheless.
The sample letter is funny enough on its own, but Allison and Perry include their own version of a letter from regular people. It includes exciting activities such as possibly changing long distance carriers and dinner at Applebee’s. The “regular people” letter is hysterical in its dullness.
The essays are filled with great one-liners. One of the best comes from the Knitting Mom. When she breaks down in front of another mother, she confesses, “It’s just like drugs, but it’s yarn.” This type of absurd statement appears frequently throughout the book. Many of the annoying people have their own little catchphrases or recurring statements. This is a nice bit of continuity within the series of essays. It also helps define some of the characters.”The Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach and Other Annoying People” is a quick read. It provides an acerbic glimpse into suburban life. Allison and Perry have a good eye for humor and satire. This is a great book for poolside or beach reading. It is sharp, funny and easy to read in between other activities. You’ll also probably spot a few of the annoying people in your own life.
Cindy Murphy reads and writes in Salisbury and tries hard not to be annoying.

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