Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What I'm Reading: Haven Kimmel

If you don't know Haven Kimmel, you should meet her. Start at the beginning with her first work, A Girl Name Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana. In these autobiographical snapshots, Kimmel manages something every writer struggles with: to write honestly about her family without hurting them or making them hate you. The stories are hilarious, touching, and identifiable. You know these people; you remember these childhood feelings of joy, embarrassment, frustration, and silliness. The Kimmels' story continues in She Got up Off the Couch: and Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana. These bittersweet tales focus mainly on Kimmel's mother, a woman who put her life on hold for her family and then takes it back. Know anyone like that? Thought so.

The great thing about Haven Kimmel is that her fiction is amazing, too. The Solace of Leaving Early is stunning. Kimmel attended seminary, and faith and religion are major themes in this novel. Kimmel's contemplations are intellectual and inconclusive, which I appreciate because you cannot get to the bottom of religion, any religion. Reason will take you only so far, and then you have to take a leap of faith...or not, because you have better ways to spend your time. As little as I care for spirituality, I enjoyed these meditations immensely. The Used World, her latest, is another exercise in awesome and features the reappearance of several of her Solace characters. To round out her list of works is Something Rising (Light and Swift), which I'm reading now.

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