Gina McKnight, Author, Freelance Writer, Equestrian, Blogger, and Poet! Welcome to my international blog about horses, writers, authors, books, cowboys, equestrians, photographers, artists, poets, poems, and more horses.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Odyssey in a Teacup: Fantastically fun women's satire by Paula Houseman
tut-tutting, big-breasted, modern-day gorgon; a humorless schoolmarm with an
unfortunate name and freakishly long, yellow incisors (yeesh)—these are the
kinds of people Ruth Roth regularly encounters. Add in daily dealings with an
acerbic mother who squawks like a harpy, a father with a dodgy moral compass
and a God complex, a bitchy mirror, and Ruth’s existence feels like a Greek
idiocy of daily life makes sense to Ruth when she develops a fascination with
ancient mythology. She learns that the deviant gods and spectacular monsters of
bygone myths are alive and well in the backwoods of our psyche; that there’s
always one who escapes suppression and can have the whip hand in our lives.
Ruth’s is one of the most unwelcome societal presences—the goddess of obscenity.
And talk about ugly!
can relate to this immortal. Not in looks; Ruth is quite comely. But she feels
unwelcome in her own family (she gatecrashed her mother’s womb only two months
after her brother vacated it). Despite being labelled the ‘black sheep’, or
maybe because of it, Ruth takes on her nemeses, bravely and brazenly (her dirty
goddess doesn’t give a rat’s about social niceties). But our heroine is
war-weary. And the yearning to fit in somewhere—anywhere—eventually undoes her.
We must look on helplessly as Ruth loses her soul.
wants it back, though!
as well the mad characters in her mind and experiences won’t quit. Just as well
Ruth never loses her wry wit. And where her nearest and dearest attempt to keep
her shrunken into a wholesome package of conformity, Ruth’s two closest
girlfriends simply won’t allow it. And then there’s Ralph Brill.
hot-looking, eccentric cousin and best friend, Ralph is her staunchest ally.
Also a misfit in his family, he has his share of problems including a
st-t-t-tuttering brutish father, and an obsessive-compulsive personality
disorder—Ralph needs to do everything twice, twice.
relies on his repeated encouragement and the support of her girlfriends as she
embarks on an odyssey. A good homoeopathic dose of ancient mythology helps her
find her way back through the sludgy shame and irrational fears choking her
spirit. Then just when all seems well, Ruth faces an apocalypse …
I haven't read any good satire in a really long time. As an
American and Floridian, I used to follow writers like Dave Barry and Carl
Hiassen with abandon but there is something to be said for international
writers and I simply adored author Paula Houseman's new novel, "Odyssey in a Teacup". A story
written around one central character, Ruth, and her trials and tribulations in
her world of family, friends, occupation and the like. Ruth's encounters are
nearly all quite hilarious and I loved her sharp wit, that often had me wishing
I was as quick with the tongue. The secondary characters in this one are
equally as quirky and delightful. A great read.
Houseman thought her life was, well ... meh. Until she started fiction
writing. What gushed forth onto the page made her realize her existence had not
been mundane after all; it had been ridiculous!
she has a serious side. The concept of 'identity' had fascinated her for some
time, and she exercised it as a graphic designer creating them for others
through imagery. Then, at university (majoring in linguistics and sociology),
she explored how word usage constructs our identities and realities. Paula
applied her findings to an essay on women's subjectivity, even won the 2007
UNSW United Association of Women Prize. And her honors thesis examined the
archetypal significances in the words that shape our collectively authored
while she was digging around in ancient mythology where the archetypes live,
Paula developed a kinship with a butt-ugly, potty-mouthed goddess, one who
embodied a holy kind of dirty, showed her the absurdity of the human condition,
taught her about the value of laughter, and is responsible for the bawdiness in
her book, Odyssey in a Teacup.