Haven Kimmel studied English and creative writing at Ball State University and North Carolina State University and attended seminary at the Earlham School of Religion. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.
It's a clich to say that a good memoir reads like a well-crafted work of fiction, but Kimmel's smooth, impeccably humorous prose evokes her childhood as vividly as any novel. Born in 1965, she grew up in Mooreland, Ind., a place that by some "mysterious and powerful mathematical principle" perpetually retains a population of 300, a place where there's no point learning the street names because it's just as easy to say, "We live at the four-way stop sign." Hers is less a formal autobiography than a collection of vignettes comprising the things a small child would remember: sick birds, a new bike, reading comics at the drugstore, the mean old lady down the street. The truths of childhood are rendered in lush yet simple prose; here's Zippy describing a friend who hates wearing girls' clothes: "Julie in a dress was like the rest of us in quicksand." Over and over, we encounter pearls of third-grade wisdom revealed in a child's assured voice: "There are a finite number of times one can safely climb the same tree in a single day"; or, regarding Jesus, "Everyone around me was flat-out in love with him, and who wouldn't be? He was good with animals, he loved his mother, and he wasn't afraid of blind people." (Mar.) Forecast: Dreamy and comforting, spiced with flashes of wit, this book seems a natural for readers of the Oprah school of women's fiction (e.g., Elizabeth Berg, Janet Fitch). The startling baby photograph on the cover should catch browsers' eyes. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
In this first book, Kimmel has written a love letter to her hometown of Mooreland, IN, a town with an unchanging population of 300 in America's heartland. Nicknamed "Zippy" for her energetic interpretation of a circus monkey, she could not be bothered to speak until she was three years old, and her first words involved bargaining with her father about whether or not a baby bottle was still appropriate. Born in 1965, Zippy lived in a world filled with a loving family, peculiar neighbors, and multitudes of animals, including a chicken she loved and treated like a baby. Her story is filled with good humor, fine storytelling, and acute observations of small town life. Recommended for libraries in the Midwest or with large memoir collections.DPam Kingsbury, Alabama Humanities Fdn., Florence Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Almost dreamlike in some of [her] elusive storytelling, [Kimmel]
pulls off a feat that's harder than it looks: write for adults from
a child's perspective . . . Zippy's parents must have done
something right to produce a girl who could write such a simple and
"A Girl Named Zippy seems to be about the cleverest . . . memoir ever. [Kimmel is] a born storyteller . . . I imagine everyone in the world would be grateful for Kimmel's book."
-Orlando Sentinel "Very engaging, funny . . . it could be a cheerier version of the Leechfield, Texas, Mary Karr chronicled in The Liar's Club, if drunks never got ugly and if fathers never took a belt to their kids."
"Delightfully wry (and sometimes laugh-out-loud-funny)."