Wellesley’s Linda Erin Keenan doesn’t pull any ?#@*&%! punches in her new self-described NC-17 book Suburgatory: Twisted Tales From Darkest Suburbia — not that she’s talking about you. Well, mostly not about you.
After working at CNN in New York City for 7 years as a producer and writer for news anchors like Anderson Cooper and Lou Dobbs, Keenan left in the wake of 9/11 to seek a saner life for herself, her husband and her young son. What she found in a series of suburbs didn’t turn out to be any saner than what she had in the big city and she has compiled her experiences and those of her personal and Facebook friends into an edgy, humorous book (think David Sedaris meets Sarah Silverman?).
Keenan, whose work has been published in The Boston Globe Magazine and on The Huffington Post, takes on everything from suburban parents’ obsessions with their kids, lawns and bikini lines to not-so-thinly-disguised racism in the burbs to the everyday judgments foisted by neighbors upon each other. The book, broken into vignettes, phony ads and quirky advice columns that she started writing in 2007, features sections with touching titles such as:
*Dad and Hot Nanny Really Just Good Friends
*Mom Plans School Auction During Dreary Sex
*Teacher Says What She Actually Thinks, Infuriates Parents
*Woman Shops at Wal-Mart to Feel “Pretty, Thin”
Keenan — a longtime Swellesley Report supporter who introduced herself when she was first in town and hunting around for places to publish her writings — sent me an early copy of Suburgatory. I was impressed by how current it was with its references to Anthony Weiner and Casey Anthony. Time and again, I found that the stories rang familiar from my years in Wellesley and Natick. For example, she shares one story about how she got caught wearing one of her friends’ discarded designer shirts, which Keenan had picked up at the local school thrift shop.
One of my initial reactions to the book was that it might come off a tad mean-spirited to those unable to laugh at themselves, though Keenan says if anything, it’s mean-spirited to herself. Self-loathing is one of her pet topics.
Keenan emphasizes that most of the material in the book is NOT based on Wellesley. For instance, she praises her kid’s school PTO and assures me that “PTO Stunner: New President ‘Not a Power-Mad Psycho’ has an earlier origin. And sorry party animals: a racy tale about a swingers’ bash isn’t based on Wellesley either.
Keenan’s Suburgatory actually comes full circle for her and her TV background by having inspired a new ABC comedy of the same name — Suburgatory — that premieres this Wednesday at 8:30pm. The twist is that instead of being based on the story of a newly stay-at-home mom hitting the ‘burbs, the TV show focuses on a 16-year-old dragged into the suburbs by her single dad as a way to get their formerly big city lives under control.
Even though the TV show doesn’t really reflect the book, Keenan says “I feel like I’ve hit the Hollywood jackpot.”
Expect a book signing soon once Surburgatory hits local book stores.