The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping
I didn’t read much of The Way of the Househusband. It’s a good concept — Tatsu, a former gangster, applies the same kind of single-minded dedication and scary overachievement that made him top of the yakuza to taking care of the house — but I found the joke paled for me quickly. It’s the kind of thing that I would enjoy reading more in its serialized form than in collected volumes.
Yet The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping is an excellent idea for a spinoff. It’s an honest-to-goodness how-to and advice book, written by Laurie Ulster with recipes by Victoria Rosenthal, illustrated with panels from the manga series created by Kousuke Oono and additional art by Stephanie Kao.
There are four sections:
- The Way of the Housekeeper
- The Way of the Chef
- The Way of the Urban Explorer
- The Way of the Gang
Housekeeping covers tips for decluttering, using a robot vacuum, laundry, cleaning up after pets, getting rid of bugs, a little basic gardening, and making your own cleansers to avoid “toxic chemical smells.” There’s also some information on organization and budgeting. It’s a diverse mix of topics, and I found myself wondering if they were chosen because of stories in the manga I wasn’t aware of.
The cooking chapter will be of less use to American readers, as many of the recipes use ingredients more easily found in Japan. They also aren’t everyday kinds of food. Dishes start with a wood ear mushroom salad that uses a specialty vinegar and Szechuan peppercorns and move on to include cheese croquettes, udon with tempura (including making your own mentsuyu soup base and udon noodles), hot pot, tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet), a hamburger steak that includes mackerel, boba tea, and several others that required me googling for translations. But there’s also a section on picking out and maintaining a good chef’s knife.
The Urban Explorer chapter is about learning your local grocery store, exercise, self-defense, and meeting others in the neighborhood. The Gang chapter covers taking care of family and friends — throwing a birthday party, babysitting, camping — as well as taking care of yourself, whether with a home spa or when you’re sick. There’s also info on making an apron, a Halloween costume, a floral arrangement, and a haiku. It shows a wide variety of skills that emphasizes self-sufficiency.
The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping would be a fun gift for a manga fan setting out on their own. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)