Almost Sincerely by Zoe Norton Lodge

In brief: The stories of a childhood in inner-suburban Sydney will have you laughing, snorting and recognising a few familiar scenes from your own childhood.

The good: Funny, witty and a perfect winter read (as in you can’t move from the couch until you’ve finished it).

The not-so-good: It wasn’t quite a weekend’s worth of reading (aka I still had to get off the couch and do some work).

Why I chose it: Zoe is very, very funny on The Checkout and she understands why cockatiels must have their own bird mobile phone.

Year: 2015

Pages: 225

Publisher: Giramondo Publishing

Setting: Sydney, Australia

I must admit that I picked up this book solely because I’ve seen Zoe on ABC TV’s The Checkout and she is very funny (especially the segments on the things your pets need in relation to fashion and technology. I’m still trying to convince my cockatiel he needs a tuxedo). It was also getting rave reviews on every corner of the internet so I decided to check it out. Almost Sincerely doesn’t quite fit into the memoir category (it’s exceeded the snorting laugh limit for that). It’s more of a series of short stories of Zoe’s life growing up in Annandale, once a forgotten Sydney suburb but slowly turning into a hipster target.

All I knew about Annandale before reading this is that there was a pub there where sometimes there was live music – it’s probably now a gastropub specialising in organic produce grown in north facing paddocks in areas not containing a ‘y’ in their names. But you don’t need to know anything about the suburb before slipping into this book – Zoe will detail it for you as it used to be. When the corner store really was a corner store specialising in nothing but milk and exorbitant prices. Where Survivor really originated – none of this middle of nowhere business, it’s a war of suburbia. And where everyone knew everyone’s business. There are also quite a few pop culture references that really resonated with me.

I loved Zoe’s storytelling in relation to her family. Her grandparents (Yia Yia and Papou) sound like a real hoot and the cultural references (they are Greek) resonated with me (like stuffing grandchildren full of food). Her mum and dad sound just as funny. Little Georgia (her sister) did the illustrations and probably gets away with the most tender reflections. Almost Sincerely is a loving story of a family and a riotous story of growing up that probably doesn’t happen anymore in today’s protected, hyper alert society. Zoe is truly talented when it comes to writing, particularly when getting humour across. She can make even Bell’s Palsy sound hilarious!

Read it at home or anywhere it’s socially acceptable to snort decaf latte up your nose.

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