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Living It Up: Humorous Adventures in Hyperdomesticity

Overview

In Enough Is Enough, Karen Finley lampooned the self-help genre with weekly meditations showing us how to make the most of our dysfunctionality. In Living It Up, she trains her blazing wit and insight on the tyrannical Myth of the Perfect Homemaker. With the indomitable ingenuity and can-do spirit of a manic Martha Stewart, Ms. Finley takes us month-by-month through a year of fabulous living - from dictating New Year's resolutions to friends and family, to growing marigolds in your armpit in June, to knitting ...
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Overview

In Enough Is Enough, Karen Finley lampooned the self-help genre with weekly meditations showing us how to make the most of our dysfunctionality. In Living It Up, she trains her blazing wit and insight on the tyrannical Myth of the Perfect Homemaker. With the indomitable ingenuity and can-do spirit of a manic Martha Stewart, Ms. Finley takes us month-by-month through a year of fabulous living - from dictating New Year's resolutions to friends and family, to growing marigolds in your armpit in June, to knitting sandwich bags for a back-to-school surprise, to getting a head start on the perfect Christmas by chopping down a forty-foot tree and saving it in your freezer. In addition to such seasonal delights, Living It Up offers resourceful everyday activities and crafts, like making bathmats and coasters from the hair that collects in the tub drain, and how to throw the perfect divorce party. Illustrated throughout with the author's own distinctive drawings, Living It Up offers hope to frustrated do-it-yourselfers everywhere in a screamingly funny addition to the literature of house and home.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Performance artist Finley (Shock Treatment; Enough Is Enough) achieved notoriety several years ago when Senator Jesse Helms and others strenuously objected to the National Endowment for the Arts giving money to a woman who smeared chocolate on her breasts and called it art. Finley can be a more complex artist than that cartoonish image implies, but you wouldn't know it from her new book, a strained, tedious parody of the Martha Stewart school of happy homemaking. Arranged as a monthly guide, the text includes activities such as making a bathmat out of your hair as a Mother's Day gift, creating a John Wayne Bobbitt Father's Day party serving ofwhat else?sausage and stirring up a "Turkey Brew" by stuffing the various elements of a Thanksgiving dinner into a fifty pound blender and liquefying. Willfully amateurish drawings accompany the assorted recipes, craft suggestions and household hints. Martha Stewart seems a ripe and easy subject for parody, and once in a while Finley's buckshot assaults graze their target (in gloomy February, "I even make my own casket, and I'll share the plans with you right now.... It's more exquisite than any store-bought casket"). The onslaught wears thin, though, and too often Finley seems to have forgotten the basic rule of satirethat it be genuinely funny. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Controversial performance artist Finley, who sent up self-help groups in Enough Is Enough (not reviewed), gives her downtown edge to household goddess Martha Stewart and other icons of supermarket domesticity.

It isn't easy to pastiche Stewart, who designed a line of house paints based on the colors of the eggs her chickens laid. But Finley gets in some funny lampoons while uncovering the edgy obsessiveness and darker psychology of a life lived close to a glue gun. Just as Stewart publishes a monthly calendar of her formidable activities, so Finley uses the easy frame of a calendar year for her satire (October—Halloween, when 50 guests are served a breakfast of lifesize marshmallow ghost pancakes). Finley tells us, "I've come to the conclusion that there is a craft project in everything around us." Some of the projects are topical no-brainers: Father's Day parties decorated in a Lorena Bobbitt/penis motif; Menendez room makeovers for angry teenagers, with pictures of Lyle and Erik on the wall. More are grotesque and macabre: cockroach centerpieces for Easter (bunny ears are attached to their little bodies); bath mats woven from hair caught in the bathtub drain; and a do-it-yourself casket. Finley lines hers with "handmade velvet from France that I've bleached, dyed, and detailed with lace made by nuns in Belgium." One feels that Stewart could easily one-up her there. Finley is more fun when she's silly and surreal: "Well, wouldn't you know that under my left armpit I started growing marigolds! The dwarf orange variety. I left them alone till they got established." And she's more pointed in her diary of a depressed and angry woman: "5:30 a.m.: I don't want to get up. No one cares about my thirty-foot coconut cake heart with cherry butter cream inside."

With her funny illustrations, Finley serves a merely clever amuse-gueule that could have been a more substantial meal.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385486453
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Finley

Karen Finley: Karen Finley is a New York-based artist whose raw and transgressive performances have long provoked controversy and debate. She has appeared and exhibited her visual art, performances and plays internationally. Her performances have been presented at Lincoln Center, New York City; The Guthrie, Minneapolis; American Repertory Theatre; The ICA in London; Harvard; The Steppenwolf in Chicago; and The Bobino in Paris. Her artworks are in numerous collections and museums including the Pompidou in Paris and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

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