Originally published June 2019
Stop whatever you are doing and pick up “Southern Lady Code” by Helen Ellis.
That’s really all you should need to know this book of essays is worth the time. I love all sorts of books and always have a favorite on the tip of my tongue to suggest when someone asks, but rarely do I shill like this. It’s that entertaining.
Ellis reminds me of David Sedaris, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a shout out to him vis-a-vis her husband in her acknowledgments. Ellis’ writing has such a smart tone that makes it possible to talk about pornography and cheese logs with equal hilarity and truth. Her essays cover the spectrum of modern adulthood, from mammograms to embracing childlessness. Within these pages you will find all the tips on how to be the best guest (Tip: Don’t bring wine. Send flowers ahead.). How to acknowledge a good day. (Did you carve a pistol out of soap? No? Then you are trending toward a good day.) How to determine if you are a Halloween person or a Christmas person.
And you will laugh. Repeatedly. Hard. You will annoy your friends by reading sections out loud to them. Mostly, your heart will warm. It’s just that charming and real.
I am in love with Helen’s parents and I am inspired by her relationship with her husband. She is living her best life and after all these months of being 50 and waiting for the IDGAF gene to kick in, I think I may have found an accelerant with her last essay, “That Kind of Woman.” It’s about a single-pager, one of several of these throughout the book, that offer life advice that’s about as honest as it comes. And reading “That Kind of Woman” is liberating.
Thank you, Helen Ellis.