Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

4 Stars

I should probably leave well enough alone and not post any sort of review regarding little Zippy, but I’m not gonna. I’ve been seeing this title pop up on various lists and whatnot for YEARS now and always managed to avoid it due to the eternal question I ask myself whenever I see a memoir written by a non-famous person: “WTF was so special about you that you think everyone else wants to read about it???” But then the dang thing came back again when I was perusing the Faceplace and saw my library’s weekly question post, which this time around was “what’s the last book you read that made you laugh out loud.” Some of the answers provided by rando strangers on the interwebs I agreed with, some made me want to find out where they live so I could go smack them around a bit for obviously being super unfunny people and probably a real drag to hang around with and then there was Zippy. Again. I popped over to GR and saw my few friends who had read it had enjoyed it and then I noticed reviews from others. Those people belong in a category I like to call . . . .

It didn’t take long for me to figure out this might be my type of memoir when on Page 2 I discovered the author’s sister’s reaction when she discovered Haven Kimmel planned on writing about growing up in their small town was . . .

“I know who might read such a book. A person lying in a hospital bed with no television and no roommate. Just lying there. Maybe waiting for a physical therapist. And then here comes a candy striper with a squeaky library cart and on that cart there is only one book – or maybe two books: yours, and Cooking with Pork. I can see how a person would be grateful for Mooreland then.”

Since I had already read Cooking with Pork myself, I figured what the hell. And what did I find? First, I really did laugh out loud and second . . .

“It’s a memoir, and a sigh of gratitude, a way of returning.”

I spent nearly the entire book trying to figure out why (aside from the fact that a lot of pieces of Zippy’s life – especially those of the camping variety - seemed to mimic my upbringing) I was having quite the spell of déjà vu all the way up to the last page when finally it dawned on me . . . . .

And speaking of that last page. Dammit woman!!!!!

WTF? I thought I was signing up for something that triggered everybody and their brother, not one that made my eyeballs get tingly with happy tears about dogs as Father’s Day presents or the most magical Christmas ever.

Now, before you go putting this on your TBR, here are some things I know almost for certain about the people who will be able to enjoy this book:

1. They need to be a bit long in the tooth. This is the story of a girl who was brought up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. It’s not what you would call “politically correct” so the younger generation will definitely find 1 or 12 things to get worked up about.

2. They need to be familiar with small town life. We’re talking about real small town life – Zippy grew up in a town with a population of 300.

3. They have to be able to differentiate between animal abuse and (i) farm living as well as (ii) the foreshadowing that your neighbor Petey Scoggs might grow up to become Jeffrey Dahmer.

4. An appreciation of this statement regarding food groups as being gospel: “fried, meat, bread, coke, and ice cream. She was an excellent cook.” A first-hand knowledge of the difference between a FryDaddy and a FryGranddaddy is also a necessity.

5. A pretty iron stomach, being raised with an aluminum Christmas tree (and if you were rich, the accompanying color wheel) in your house (and not because it’s awesomely “retro” now – even though I agree it is), knowing how bad it sucked to have to “ride the hump” or sit in the “way-way back” of the Family Truckster on road trips, and quite possibly have your only braggable talent being that you could “sing along with every word of a complicated song” (for Zippy, it was the “canticle part of Scarborough Fair” – for me it was We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel).

Did you answer in the affirmative/take a trip down memory lane with respect to all of the above? If so, maybe you should give this one a try . . . .

If not? Well, go ahead and fill this out in triplicate and Shelby will be with you shortly . . . .


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