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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
More than a half-million people know Kelly Oxford’s biting sense of humor via her Twitter account. She counts an odd collection of celebrities, including magician David Copperfield, television host Jimmy Kimmel and the late movie critic Roger Ebert, among her fan base.
Yet beyond the 140-character quips she shares with her followers is a gifted storyteller whose collection of essays, “Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar,” is a vivid recounting of her unconventional 30-plus years of life.
Twitter may have been the venue that catapulted Oxford to celebrity, but she has been honing her skills as a writer since her precocious childhood in Edmonton, Canada. Her memoir opens with her attempt, at 6 years old, to cast a play she has written (plagiarized, actually, but forgivable for an imaginative kindergartner) based on “Star Wars.” From a tender age, Oxford is a willful — borderline obnoxious — kid who flourished from having laid-back parents who encouraged her independence and creativity.
Her misadventures as a teenager — traveling to Los Angeles to find Leonardo DiCaprio and make him become her boyfriend , living in a used van on a beach with no ambition other than smoking pot , scamming the Salvation Army for a free plane ticket — may make parents squirm, but she tells her stories with such confidence, humor and intelligence that the reader can almost put aside the worry and enjoy the ride.
It’s Oxford’s stories as an adult that are the most compelling. In a panic that her lack of secondary education could doom her and her daughter to a life similar to the plot line of a Lifetime television movie if anything would ever happen to her husband, she went to school to become an occupational therapist assistant. Her tales of working with elderly and disabled people are touching and funny and introduce readers to her more insightful and tender side.
As cringe-inducing as her teenage escapades may be to moms, her experiences raising her own three children, from diaper explosions to an exhausting trip to Disneyland, are relatable and hilarious.
Oxford, who lives in Los Angeles with her family and is starting a career as a screenwriter, is self-deprecating and self-aware, but not so self-involved that she seems smug.
“Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar” is, despite the title, an honest peek into the life of a smart, flawed and funny writer.
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