Thursday, February 11, 2010

BOOK: She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel

She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel, 304 pages
and Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana

TBR Lite; Women Unbound

If you haven't read Kimmel's first memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana, you should go get that book and read it. Let me share a snippet of She Got Up's introduction, and if you find this humorous at all, you will like these books.

Kimmel is describing the publishing of her first book.

I turned around one day and the book was taken on by a publisher and then it had a cover - and I am talking about the most unfortunate cover imaginable: me as a six-month-old baby, wearing a dress my mother made. I was a tragic little monkey child: bald, with the kind of ears that look fine on woodland creatures but in human culture tend to be corrected surgically. I was holding Mom's watch, which was dripping with drool, as I was teething. I'm sorry, I need to say this all again. On the cover of the book was my cross-eyed monkey baby picture, holding a drool-drenched watch. ... thus did A Girl Named Zippy skitter out into the world, and thus was my self-respect laid to rest.

I just love Kimmel's voice. She narrates the story of her life as she saw it as a child, and she was a bit of an unusual child. She has a way of describing feelings and events as a child sees and feels them, and putting into words these huge, dramatic thoughts. Zippy hated shoes, but is forced to wear a pair of sandals for a family event. The sandals had a flower on them, which made them ten times worse, so she tries to destroy them. Suddenly, the shoes become a part of her feet and then she doesn't mind them, but she can't admit that, barely even to herself. She's not supposed to like shoes!

This sequel is a bit darker, as Zippy is growing up and becoming more aware of her surroundings and the lives of her family members, beyond how it affects her.

The 'she' referred to in the title is her mother, who spends the first book on the couch, reading. In the second book, coinciding with the second wave of feminism in the early 70s, her mother got up, learned to drive a car, and attended university.

Zippy says to her Mom - "Actually, my only plan was to sit and chat with you."
"Do you remember," Mom asked, turning a page of the paper she was grading, "what I used to say before napping?"
Of course I did, it was [rule] number seven. " 'I'll be asleep if you need me, so try not to need me.' "

I absolutely have not done this book credit in this review for the enjoyment I received. I guffawed aloud several times, and one time I tried to read a funny line to my daughter, and I couldn't get it out, I started laughing so hard.


  1. Heeheehee, this sounds so funny! For some reason I thought A Girl Named Zippy was very very serious - like that the title and the cheerful cover were supposed to be in ironic contrast to the misery within. Appears I was totally wrong...

  2. I read both of these books quite a while ago, and enjoyed both very much. You are right that the second book is a bit more serious. Love her way with words in both.

  3. jenny - it's very funny. It's not Angela's Ashes. It sort of reminds me of your writing, in that I get the phrasings, and it just matches how I find things funny. I'd be interested to see if you like it or not.

    valerie - her voice and phrasing just make me laugh, and remember being a kid. Sometimes I hear Zippy, and think I understand one of my girls a bit better.

  4. I read Zippy a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've had this one on my TBR list ever since then, but have never managed to actually get around to requesting it at the library (my branch doesn't have a copy so I have to request). Thanks for the reminder that put this one back on my radar.

  5. Kimmel's mom was my kinda gal...I really miss having a couch. But good on her for accomplishing so much when the kids got bigger.


Thanks for commenting, so nice of you to visit.

(I'll try without the letters for a while - so please dont be a spammer! Let's try no anonymous users)