February 8, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 38°F


Review: Self-deprecating humor shines in autobiography

Writer Kelly Oxford is one of those girls that people hate themselves for loving. She portrays herself as someone who would be expected to turn out as a professional waitress and a complete burnout, but in actuality she’s a Twitter sensation alongside comedians such as Rob Delaney, Chelsea Handler and Rainn Wilson. She has written television shows for NBC and CBS, sold a screenplay to Warner Bros. and most recently released her autobiographical book, “Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar.”

“Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar” is a collection of self-deprecating personal essays depicting Oxford’s childhood upbringing in Edmonton, Canada, and her metamorphosis from the girl who tried to put on “Star Wars” as a school play at age 6 to a wife and stay-at-home mother of three children.

The reader looks through Oxford’s “childhood glasses,” which she so fondly dedicates her book to, and watches her evolve, becoming increasingly more self-aware and learning obscure life lessons through many misadventures and unpleasant discoveries.

Oxford did not attend university. Instead, she went to Los Angeles at the age of 17 in search of Leonardo DiCaprio — pre-“Titanic” — in hopes of making him her boyfriend before he got too famous. At 19, she moved to a remote island in Canada where she had to use a public, coin-operated shower, spending two years of her life living in a white Dodge van with a large amount of marijuana. Eventually, she casually made her way to stardom by becoming friends with friends of famous people by accident. Through a friend of her husband, she became the assistant to the producer of a show that ranked second behind “The Sopranos.” Her good luck is almost unbelievable, and it seems a bit unfair. She’s everything a student hoping to work in the entertainment business should hate but aspires to be.

Oxford uses her traumatic tales to keep the reader engaged and laughing through the entire 317 pages. Each chapter illustrates another point in her life in which she does something stupid or embarrassing, but it always all works out in the end because she is a perfect liar.

Oxford writes in a conversational and sarcastic style. Her work reads like fiction because even the mundane moments seem outlandish. She has this astounding gift to make even the most routine situations absolutely hilarious with her off-color wit and lack of political correctness, such as tagging her 11-year-old daughter’s sentences with “Bitch, please” and accusing a man without a frontal lobe of faking blindness. She turns the most blatantly inappropriate scenarios into comic genius.

“I hate being an accidental a-hole. I don’t mind being an outright a-hole,” Oxford wrote in her chapter titled “The Terrible Horrible,” in which she talks about some heinous things that she did in her perma-high days. That audacious ideology carries throughout the book as a constant code of how she presents herself and her past. She has a way of being snarky and rude without being offensive, a talent that only a handful of people have mastered, such as authors David Sedaris or Tucker Max.

She uses her family for material, which is what most of her book boils down to. Her husband, James, and three children, Salinger, 11, Henry, 9, and Bea, 4, are each present in this book, and all blatantly express that they wish she had kept them out of it. Nevertheless, Oxford portrays them as honestly as possible, capturing their sarcastic and witty personalities that reflect her own mannerisms.

Oxford is slowly emerging as Hollywood’s newest it-girl. “Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar” is only her breakthrough to mainstream pop-culture, and fans should look forward to seeing her further prove that she is one of the most hilarious writers working today.

4 stars