Adair Lara •
At Adair’s House •
During the 12 years that her column appeared twice weekly in the San Francisco Chronicle, Adair Lara won four major newspaper awards and a huge—and hugely devoted—readership. Here’s your chance to find out why.
Reading the essays collected in At Adair’s House is like sitting across the kitchen table from a witty, articulate friend while she regales you with stories of her delinquent father, her aging twin, and her saintly childhood (“How I Became So Hideously Nice and Other Family Legends”). You come away grinning, and maybe even feeling less alone.
For the most part, Lara doesn’t address social or political issues except insofar as they touch her immediate world. “I rarely notice what’s going on, and when I do it’s too late,” she remarks in the companion anthology Welcome to Earth, Mom.
What she does do, brilliantly, is capture the warp and woof of daily life: the art of sulking; the fine points of being Irish; skirmishes between scolders and scoldees, landlords and tenants, warm people and cold people. “I’ve been hearing this all my life, and I’m still amazed that someone can stand there and tell you you aren’t cold. Where are they getting their information?”
When her son insists that someone stole his homework, Lara says, “I shivered . . . With several schools nearby, [our neighborhood is] a favorite turf for the dread spelling-homework gangs.”
Then there’s her kids’ reaction to the news that Lara and Bill, her boyfriend of long standing, are getting married. Eleven-year-old Patrick continues bouncing his basketball for a moment, then asks, “Does Bill know?”
Lara’s colleague Jon Carroll says in the introduction, “A columnist who is not smug; amazing. Try to think of another one.” Even if you could, you’d still want to visit Adair’s house.