Revelations of an Ugly Old Hag
by Dolly Delanty
PageTurner Press and Media

"This ugly old hag marches to her own drum. At this stage of life, she says anything at any time and usually does."

This collection of short, humorous essays details the author’s life in and out of her Canadian retirement home (which she calls “the Gulag”). She reminisces about her days before coming to the Gulag, sharing stories of her skinflint ex-husband’s disastrous used vehicles or the time she drunkenly “almost saved a life.” She reflects on cultural differences during her visits to her daughter and in-laws in Australia (with a particular eye for the differences in male swimwear). And, of course, the essays provide hilariously scathing reviews of the retirement home, as well as its denizens and group activities, from the home’s fun “mystery trips” to Walmart or a cemetery to the hopeless choir and a drama club composed of people with memory issues.

The essays in this book are all one to two pages long, with a wide range of topics. The chapters seem to be in no particular order, but their light-hearted tone makes for quick reading. The author’s frank, conversational style recalls the writings of humorist Erma Bombeck. The most enjoyable moments in the book come from the author’s audacity in her descriptions of (and interactions with) the people around her. From the sex lives of her fellow Gulag inmates to her in-laws’ need for morning prunes, no subject is off limits here. The end matter contains several family recipes, furthering the intimate, conversational feel of the book. The near-constant profanity occasionally gets in the way of the flow of the stories. However, the author’s irreverent perspective on aging and living in a retirement community is fresh, entertaining, and fun.

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