Friday, April 14, 2006

I know I bombard people with requests to read Haven Kimmel, but I can't help it and make no excuse for it. (I just got her new book yesterday and am already on page 180. The greedy joy of reading this book is tempered by the knowledge that each page turned means one fewer page left.)

The author Lee Smith says "Haven Kimmel can do anything she wants with language." That is a powerful compliment in my family of preachers and readers and linguaphiles.

Every page is as good as this one, page 49 in her new book, She Got Up Off the Couch, dedicated to her Quaker mother who lost 100 pounds, performed the titular deed, and put herself through college:

"I never could get what was the big deal about being pretty, it all seemed like a bunch of hokum to me. Who had time to think about such things, and who would bother? I knew girls who even had those life-sized decapitated Barbie heads, and they would concentratedly paint Barbie's eyelids a shade of blue not seen on a human face since Mooreland's too brief acquaintance with a town slut (or as my mother called her, man-dependent). And Barbie's lips would get painted a cheap crayony pink, with lumps and streaks, and it was not many hours after Christmas morning that my toiletry-leaning friends discovered that no matter what one did with Barbie's hair it turned out creepy and couldn't be undone. Then there she sat, gathering dust on her cheerful, ruined face and chopped-up vinyl hair and I don't know why my friends didn't just get themselves a talking evil clown doll and be done with it."

And here's Kimmel's description of a cat she found at the city dump:

"I could see that he was junkyard-colored, probably a gray tabby under all the layers of grime, and one of his ears was a hopeless jigsaw. Every cat I'd ever owned had, during some brawl, lost a hunk of ear. It was a standard cat condition. The Dumpcat's left eye drooped, too, and he appeared to have lost all his whiskers. This stopped me in my tracks, because I knew from my dad that cats used their whiskers to help them see. Dad told me a cat won't stick his head anywhere his body can't fit through, and his whiskers tell him how wide his body is. Good Lord, I thought, this cat is headed for disaster.

As I got closer, he made a little rumble sound deep in his chest and darted away. This kind of cat was a test; one could either lose one's temper and dive at him or be a good Quaker and keep going at him with gentleness. I pursued him nicely, in a way that would have made my sister proud, with the vague idea that I might catch him and put him in the treehouse with the chair and the dirty magazine we'd found in the barn and couldn't hardly stand to look at."

Do you see what I mean? Run, do not walk, to the closest library or bookstore and get yourself some Haven Kimmel. For an amazing interview, go to
and download the audio.

1 comment:

heather said...

Fabulous! Share the Zippy love! Kimmel is a fabulous writer, I love reading her writing probably more than any other author, it just gives me so much joy. Great minds apparently think alike - not only do our blogs look the same, but we both write about excellent authors! :))