Karori Confidential: Selected Columns by Leah McFall (Luncheon Sausage Books) $25
There has always been a lot to love about the weekly columns Leah McFall writes for Sunday magazine straight outta Karori – arguably the most suburban of all Wellington city suburbs. So it was great news when the awesomely named Luncheon Sausage Books published a collection of around 60 of her selected columns in one handy book, Karori Confidential.
Just as Seinfeld is said to be ‘‘a show about nothing’’, McFall’s
columns aren’t really about anything, other than the minutiae of domestic life; details of the daily grind of a 40-something woman that would usually go unremarked upon, if not unobserved.
She explains the rationale behind the column in her introduction to the book: ‘‘There’s such comedy in the neurosis of the middle-aged woman and the constellations of her life with kids, teachers, the family doctor, the till operator at her local supermarket, neighbours and workmates… It’s not much but it’s enough… I feel very strongly that these women… deserve to hear about their unsung lives.’’
From plastic surgery, to organising consultants, to dressing up for the school run, her columns regularly expose ridiculous but persistent cultural expectations of women.
McFall is not only a wise feminist who looks out for other women, she’s a natural comedian and a good noticer, communicating her personal struggles, joys and fears over relationships, aging, kids, houses, work, and her firm views on the royal family, with irreverence and heaps of jokes at her own expense.
Having no ‘‘credits in the Bank of Cool’’, McFall is happy to acquaint readers with her weaknesses – whether they be the leaky state of her post-baby bladder, or her love for all things miniature. ‘‘Even now I’m torn between finishing this column and leafing through my Sylvanian Families catalogue,’’ she notes.
Many of her dilemmas will resonate with Wellingtonians especially, who will appreciate the futility of keeping any kind of hair style going in this town and are still
getting to grips with swanky David Jones usurping our beloved Kirks – though that’s not to say those living outside the capital shouldn’t pick up Karori Confidential. They should. Funny is funny.
Finishing this book feels a bit like you’ve enjoyed a good long laugh with a smart friend. The columns traverse a massive amount of ground – from Lulelemon leisure wear to chapters on Marie Kondo and Kirstie Allsopp (a personal highlight for me) – reminding us that there aren’t any boring subjects, only boring writing. And you won’t find any of that in here.
– Sarah Chandler
McFall is not only a wise feminist who looks out for other women, she’s a natural comedian and a good noticer.