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JUNE 2015


daughter Claudia, ‘If books written by

young women are called chick lit, what

do you think older women’s should be

called?’ After some thought, she sug-

gested decreplit.”

The dated journal entries and

Keenan’s self-deprecating prose move

the story along, but don’t prevent it

from getting bogged down in various

tangents. Their peripatetic lifestyle—

London, Somerset, Brussels, Kazakh-

stan, Azerbaijan, trips to Israel—can

be tiresome to keep up with. Keenan’s

sometimes flatfooted political com-

ments may make you wince. And some

journal entries are so mundane you

wonder why they were ever included.

The book is richest when it show-

cases the author doing what she does

best: observing and humorously

describing her life. “The packers have

been here all weekend and everything

of ours has gone,” she writes near the

end of the book. It’s a feeling any FS

member who has ever packed out

knows well.

“Our beautiful room looks rather

empty and sad. To help us with unpack-

ing in England, I asked the packers to

write on the boxes what is inside. On

the ones containing our bed linens, they

have written

Ambassador’s shits.

Packing Up

is full of bits like this,

which make you chuckle and nod

knowingly without even realizing you’re

doing it. This is not a book to read if

you’re looking for great insight on the

meaning of life, but it is a book to enjoy

for what it is: One that’s easy to put

down, but also easy to pick back up



Debra Blome is a former associate editor of

The Foreign Service Journal.

The book is richest when it showcases the author doing what

she does best: observing and humorously describing her life.