“Freak of Nurture” by Kelli Dunham— Autobiographical Essays


Dunham, Kelli. “Freak of Nurture”, Topsider Press, 2013.

Autobiographical Essays

Amos Lassen

What happens when hilarity and chaos take over a life? Kelli Dunham tells us in this collection of autobiographical essays. Dunham is a product of the Midwest and was raised with a Midwestern work ethic yet she was determined to turn her bad ideas into some kind of fantastic reality. It is the way that she presents what she considers to be bad situations that totally entertains and inspires. She shows us how to laugh at our flaws and at ourselves. The title itself lets us know we are in for a good time.

Dunham tells us about her childhood, growing up Catholic, road trips, coming-out and so much and she does so with tremendous grace and style and a very large helping of humor. She moved from being a Roman Catholic nun to an atheist and her stories are true—she has totally given herself to life. Even when she is facing loss she is hilarious and I had a lot of fun reading this book.

Nothing is sacred here and all is fair game whether it be life in a convent or Sarah Palin. I love the chapter “The ABCs of Adventure in Gender”. “I don’t know if people ever get gender right, since I don’t know how it would look to them to get my gender wrong”. Then there is the wonderful chapter “Does it Take More Than Duct Tape to be a Dyke”? Nothing anytime, anywhere can be funnier than real life happenings and this is what Dunham does—she tells us real stories from her life that really get us laughing and I have to admit that I had to put the book down several times because I was laughing that hard. Yet in all of the humor there is a serious message about being oneself and while we laugh we also learn and not many writers have the ability to make us do that. If my friend and comedian, Bob Smith, tells you that here is humor that is serious, you can believe him and a recommendation about a book from him is a guarantee.

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