Monday, June 19, 2006

"She Got Up Off the Couch..." by Haven Kimmel

The full title of this book is: She Got Up Off the Couch And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana.

It's an autobiography about growing up in the 70's in a very small town, in a rather odd family. Make no mistake, this is a very small town, with all of its advantages and disadvantages. I was born in 1970. I have a few photos of myself like this.

I don't even know where to start, there's so much good stuff between these covers! I have decided that the only way I can do justice to a book that made me laugh and weep in equal amounts, is to just let it speak for itself...

*The couch in the den was the color the crayon people called Flesh even though it resembled no human or animal flesh on Planet Earth, and the couch fabric was nubbled in a pattern of diamonds. It was best to prevent the nubbles from coming into direct contact with one's real Flesh, so there was usually a blanket or a towel or clothing spread out as a buffer. Also no one wanted to pick up the blanket, the towel, and the clothing and fold them. Or even pick them up. So it was a fine arrangement.

*As we walked toward our bicycles, Julie reached up silently and pulled the burr out of her hair; dozens of flame-colored strands came with it. She tossed the whole mess down in the junkyard, where, for just a moment, it blazed up, and was consumed.

*I slept in my clothes all summer, so I could just hop up in the morning and go. I was working on simplifying my life, which I had discovered could be done very easily if I ceased to do the following: wash my face, brush my hair, brush my teeth, wear shoes.

*On television, Granny said, "I've made some possum stew," which I frankly couldn't improve. Beverley Hills, wherever that was, looked like the grimmest, most unhappy place in the universe.

*Oh I hated school, it was mean to make me go, my fingers got all crampy around a pencil and my sister said I had the handwriting of a psycho murderer.

*I stared at Mother as if looking at her alien replica...I had never cleaned my room one time in my life as was abundantly clear from walking up the stairs, something Mom didn't do, hallelujah. That room was beyond hope or help and I'd thought it wise to surrender.

This woman is my hero because she has written a memoir that alternately makes me want to write my own and devastates me because I don't know if I can ever write something as funny and moving and heartbreaking and funny as she has.

If you grew up in a slightly odd family, or in an isolated place, or in the 70's, you have to read this. If you're from Indiana you should read this. If your mother was depressed and nobody knew it, or if you were, or are, then you should read this. You know what, read it regardless. It's just that good.

5 comments:

Big Orange said...

I am SOOO there! ::logs on to Jax Public Li'berry system and does title search::

I grew up in a 70's home that probably was a bit eccentric (tho' I've expanded on that QUITE a big meself, thankee) and this looks RIGHT up me alley.

Heidi the Hick said...

Honestly it is so funny. Highly recommended by this hick!

Kari said...

Yea, I need to read this one.

Life, or Something Like It said...

It really was a great book, but I have a friend who is a much better writer....maybe someday we'll all be reading her books.....

Life, or Something Like It said...

It really was a great book, but I have a friend who is a much better writer....maybe someday we'll all be reading her books.....