Sometimes a collection of short, humorous observational essays are just what the doctor ordered. Author Nancy Chovancek has honed her craft with two previous books; her third, Angry Birds and Beehive Hair goes down like a pre-dinner cocktail.
First things first: The title has nothing to do with the computer app. Chovancek describes in one short piece how her Italian mother wore a beehive hairdo that inspired neighborhood birds to attack and try to claim it as a weekend nest. Other essays poke fun at conference call etiquette, the perennial pleasure of last-minute Christmas shopping at the mall, and family foibles. There are a few typos scattered throughout, but not enough to slow readers down or undercut the humor.
Chovancek is at her best when she tells personal stories. Living with Meniere’s disease, deafness and severe vertigo have presented her with challenges she meets with great humor. Her phrasing can be spot-on, too, as in a story about skydiving: “Honestly, I loved the concept of being videotaped, but the result is not one bit flattering. I don’t care how thin or muscular you are—your skin is going to be flapping around during your free fall like a pair of your grandma’s panties on the clothesline during a tornado.” The more general observation pieces don’t have the same sparkle. Chovancek’s life offers unique material that only she can mine for laughs, while essays about overweight women wearing spandex at the gym or complaining that men wear overly short shorts are tired, if mildly amusing.
Fans of Lisa Scottoline’s nonfiction who can’t wait for more will appreciate Angry Birds and Beehive Hair. It’s lighthearted but feisty, and girded by powerful family love. Chovancek is a good ambassador for her health challenges, always human but gifted with a great attitude.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.