Book Review: Kitty Flanagan’s Bridge Burning & Other Hobbies is a loose look at some funny episodes from Flanagan’s life

Kitty Flanagan is an accomplished stand-up and regular on TV shows like Utopia and The Weekly With Charlie Pickering. She is a chronic over-thinker in the best possible way, and this is evident in her first book: Bridge Burning & Other Hobbies. A collection of funny anecdotes and personal stories, readers will find this book as relatable and enjoyable as her topical stand-up.

Flanagan has a wry sense of humour on stage and certainly brings this approach to proceedings here, with the tone very much conversational. It’s almost like she’s sat down with you for a cuppa and is doing bits and reminiscing about that time when such and such happened. This book is certainly not one to take itself too seriously.

Among the vignettes are Flanagan’s cautionary tales and life lessons she’s accumulated over the years being a student of the University Of Life. These include the right and wrong ways to break-up with someone. In Flanagan’s case, moving interstate and overseas initially seem like viable options and while she does follow through, she also eventually learns the hard way that honesty was actually the easier road after all. There’s also that funny time she got busted for talking too much at a crayfish factory and got locked in an industrial freezer. This reminded me of my own shenanigans in Year Nine science class but admittedly my teacher didn’t doll out tough love quite like the foreman in Flanagan’s story.

Flanagan’s love life also gets good coverage in Bridge Burning. For example, she claims that women between the ages of 37 and 42 should be banned from internet dating. She also recalls ill-fated trips around Australia in a Kombi van and a holiday in South America with a bad egg, culminating in an overnight stay in a grissly, haunted house. She also remembers an impossible argument with a stoner. These dating experiences are ones that we can all empathise with and relate to. Flanagan is certainly a masterful observer of human behaviour and doing just the right amount of pillorying along with her own servings of self-deprecation.

Bridge Burning & Other Hobbies is by no means a comprehensive autobiography of Flanagan’s life. Instead, she draws together some nuggets of comedic gold by drawing heavily on the idiotic and outrageous aspects of her life. What is offered may be a little random at times, but it’s a hilarious romp through Flanagan’s mind and private universe. Make yourself a cuppa and get comfortable…

Kitty Flanagan’s Bridge Burning & Other Hobbies is available now through Allen & Unwin.