Monday, 24 September 2012

Review: Cuckoo in the Nest by Natalie Luurtsema

Book cover of Cuckoo in the Nest by Nat Luurtsema
Hey look! I haven't died, although you'd be forgiven for thinking I had. In fact, it more or less amounts to the same thing - Law School. I started last week and pretty much all I've done since then is study and, very occasionally, sleep. Still, I'm working on some semblance of a routine though, so hopefully you should see my reviews a little more frequently than they have been :)

Summary - Last year Nat (stand-up comic and general incompetent) found herself with nowhere to live. She considered sleeping on the bus and washing in the rain but inevitable ended up on her parents' doorstep. It was only for a month, she assured them, if that. She repeated this phrase a lot over the next six months, while the housing market stagnated like a spoilt kid's fish tank, and her life followed suit. While her friends pursued normal adult lives, Nat was taking packed lunches to gigs and being treated to lectures on 'Why It's Nice When All The Tins Face Forwards In The Cupboard.' ("So we can see what they all are at a glance!")

Nat wouldn't say she was the real victim of the recession, but it would be nice if you did. Then she would do a tiny, brave smile.

I seem to be going through a bit of a funny memoir phase lately - there's my recent review of Let's Pretend This Never Happened by the hilarious Jenny Lawson, my current rereading of How To Be A Woman and the way that Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Bossypants are beckoning me seductively from the top of my TBR pile. Cuckoo in the Nest is one of the more obscure titles, but I picked it up as the premise appealed to me in a relatable, oh-good-you're-pathetic-too kind of way.

The first thing you should know is that Natalie Luurtsema is a comedian, not a writer. Yes, this book is hilarious in parts but it can occasionally be a struggle to work through the awful sentence structure. Sometimes I had to reread a sentence two or three times in order to appropirately rearrange it in my head so it would make sense. It's not bad bad - you get used to it, just be prepared to kind of roll with it for a while.

It really is worth it though - I'd be interested in watching one of the author's comedy gigs, because her book is pretty damn funny. I was sat in a comfy chair in the library, sneakily stalking the reservation shelves, and suddenly I became that crazy person that giggles to herself. You know the one, they always tend to sit next to you on trains? It's very, very funny, especially because I'm sure so many of us can relate.

   "You're banned!" she cried triumphantly. "Banned! From the pale-coloured sofa!"
   She waggled the bit of sofa at me, which I recognised as the armrest. It seemed bigger out of context, but that was by the by.
   "See?" she said, gesturing delicately along a seam, like I was being scolded by a shopping channel presenter. "It's all filthy from where you sit there and do this (and she made a creepy claw motion like a tyrannosaurus rex impersonating Fagin) with your greasy hands."
   Now, I'm not a vain woman. Looks-wide I neither scare children nor inspire poetry. That's fine. But I firmly refuted this greasy-fingered, furniture-caressing grotbag image she was trying to thrust upon me.
 I could happily (happily, I tell you!) sit here and type out quotes all day - God knows it took me long enough to choose one - but this review will be nowhere near long enough to justify shoving in all the quotes that made me snuffle. Suffice it to say that there are a lot. 

As a slight diversion, you know what really bothers me? Okay, yes, a lot of things, but in relation to books. And this isn't a slight at Natalie Luurtsema, it's more of a general thing. You give up? Epilogues. I have never read a book ever where an epilogue actually added anything to the story. In most cases it actually ruins it. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Mockingjay? I'm looking at you.

Anyway, to meander back to a semblance of relevance, Cuckoo in the Nest has an epilogue and my thoughts above remain unchanged. One might say they were even concreted. I'm not going to spoil it, but it changed the entire tone of the book for me and left me thoroughly depressed. No, nobody dies, but I did end up sat there thinking 'Where the hell did THAT come from!?' It just didn't seem necessary to me and it did genuinely alter my opinion towards the book as a whole.

I really did enjoy reading this book, although it's not something I'd actually want to own. I think it could have been a lot more if it had been edited a little more aggressively and had seriously reworked the epilogue, but it does have some truly hilarious moments and I couldn't help but sit and giggle to myself.

Read my reviews of How To Be A Woman and Let's Pretend This Never Happened, two equally hilarious memoirs!


  1. I just bought 'Let's Pretend This Never Happened' because I NEED a hilarious memoir right now. I think it's an autumn thing. Y'know, when you look out at the rain, your mouth droops and you think 'SOMEBODY MAKE ME LAUGH!'

    But anyway... I'd really like to read this - it's been on my wishlist since I read a piece about it in the weekend family health supplement section thingy in the paper - but maybe I'll get it out of the liberry instead of buying if it's a bit of a 'sitting on the fence' kinda read.

    Agree about epilogues, though sometimes I think they CAN work. I don't think HP would have felt 'complete' without some kind of epilogue, and yes, I was an emotional wreck and totally cried when it came to the 'tribute to the dead' baby names. Ditto LOTR, which was so epic that it couldn't have just ENDED. But... sometimes epilogues are crap. And mawkish and unnecessary and just a little bit indulgent.

    1. P.S. YOU HAVEN'T DIED! This makes me very happy, even though I actually KNEW that you were just being very studious and stuff because SMART CHICKS ROCK. :D

    2. Yeah, I'm glad I didn't buy it. I mean, it is really really funny and I enjoyed reading it - just typing that quote out above made me giggle all over again. Still, I don't think I'll want to read it again for quite a while.

      ARGH! I should have included the LotR one in my rant above! I didn't like THAT one either :p And the Harry Potter baby name thing made me want to bash J.K.Rowling over the head with the damn book - it was just far too twee and it spoilt the whole thing. I could have grudgingly dealt with them all grown up or whatever if it wasn't for that :p

    3. Yeah, BUT, if they didn't have epilogues I'd have been all AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED?! COME BACK AND FINISH THE STORY PROPERLY! and that would have been bad. I was so much of an emotional wreck by the end of HP7 I couldn't NOT have melted into a girlie puddle of tears, to be honest... :P

  2. Funny memoirs are probably my favorite kind of memoir so this one sounds like it's up my alley!

    Good luck with Law School!

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