I have a confession to make. A month or so ago, I ran an author interview introducing you to a new author, an author with whom I share the bond of being alumnae of the same great university (Mississippi University for Women), and whom I have gotten to know through alumnae listserves. I ran the interview because I wanted to support Jimmie Meese Moomaw but I really didn't want to read her book. One thing I've learned over the last couple of years is that self-published books are usually self-published for a reason, and that reason is usually because they aren't very good. However, as noted in my "Make New Friends" post, alumnae in this area got together for lunch, followed by a reading by Jimmie. Since the gathering fell on a day I could actually attend, I went. After listening to Jimmie read, I decided that the rest of the book, Southern Fried Child In Home Seeker'S Paradise probably wasn't all that bad, and I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did.
Southern Fried Child is a series of anecdotes about Jimmie's growing up years in Brookhaven Mississippi in the 1940's. We hear how the Baptist girl going to a Catholic school fell in love with the nun who taught her first grade, and piano. We hear how Jimmie realized that the elaborate angel wings her father made for her performance in the Christmas play were his way of saying "I love you". Fishing is Jimmie's favorite sport and she learned it from her father--and we get to join them. Who wouldn't love a story about Elvis Presley Junior Smith? Most of us have a "what I did to my hair" story, and Jimmy's is as funny as any of them. Did you ever wonder what happened in the back rooms of a funeral home? Jimmy saw a real (almost) ghost there once.
Sometimes when people start telling stories about the colorful people in town it is easy for the reader to become embarrassed for those about whom the stories are written. It may be funny that you walked through town with your skirt tucked into your pantyhose, but do you really want that in print for folks to read for years on end? For the most part, Jimmie avoids this. While she mentions that her parents were alcoholics, she doesn't tell stories of their drunken behavior, and were it not for mentions of their alcoholism, you'd probably consider them ideal parents after reading this book. She tells of Lola's aberrant behavior, but lets us know that she really cared for and about Lola.
While my high school and college years were spent in Mississippi, I'm not from there, and we lived on the Coast (which anyone from Mississippi will tell you is different from the rest of the state) so I never really developed a southern accent (except to the ears of my Wisconsin relatives) and what little I did have has mellowed since I've been in New Orleans (no southern accents here) so when reading it myself, I didn't get the full effect of the book like I did when Jimmie read it out loud; however, I could picture Jimmie on the front porch in a rocking chair telling those stories to her grandkids in her lovely southern drawl.
Since the book is a series of anecdotes rather than a running narrative, it is an easy book to pick up and read for a few minutes and then leave. If you like stories of ordinary lives seen through extraordinary eyes and written about in beautiful prose, I think you'll enjoy Southern Fried Child In Home Seeker'S Paradise as much or more than I did. Grade: A-
Besides clicking on the Amazon links (which earns me a couple of nickels) you can purchase this book at other places mentioned on Jimmie's website. Jimmie also does readings and signings for book groups, church groups or at book stores. You can learn more at her facebook site (where there is a link to a video of Jimmie reading) or find her on Twitter by searching for southfriedchild