My rating: ★☆☆☆☆
After I finished this book and headed to Goodreads, I considered writing a review to explain my one-star rating. In the end I decided that I need to because a) dammit, I wanted humor but was handed 242 pages of stale personality and b) I simply feel the need to justify a low rating when the average is higher.
Note that before I requested this book from the library, I read the title and thought, Witty. I don’t judge books by their covers, but I often judge them by titles before I get around to reading the summaries. In essence, the title alone tickled my fancy because you have to admit: it’s not only a catchy phrase but it’s also pretty amusing, and I assumed the text in between the front and back covers would match. I was wrong.
It’s been some time since I read a book that made me laugh out loud, and that is what I was hoping for (and expecting). So naturally I opened Rivenbark’s book with enthusiasm only to read the first few pages and feel… disappointed. Well that’s okay. Maybe it gets better after this point, I thought, which then became, No. Okay. Maybe it will pick up after this, then? But it didn’t, at least not for me and here’s why:
Rivenbark presents a general characterization of the South that, I feel, detracts from her writing. Examples:
Southern daughter guilt is the worst of all. We are raised to make sure everyone around us is comfortable, happy, included. I had failed miserably with this woman.
Southern men are raised to be polite. At least most of them are.
And, yes, it says ‘Dink’ on his birth certificate. This is the South; pay attention.
(Apologies, as there are probably better quotes to use as examples, but I don’t particularly feel like scoping the book once more.)
Rivenbark’s talk of the South bordered between pride and, at times, a little something like, “Well, you know. This is the South, after all: home to rednecks, grammar degeneration, and food that’ll make you plumper than a Thanksgiving turkey. We rock, but please excuse us.” It felt too embellished with excessive exaggeration. Given that all regions have their own unique personalities and quirks, I think of people I know and have met who are from the South and are nothing like Rivenbark’s depiction. The constant mentioning of it felt shoved in my face in just about every part of this book, as in, “No, this is not the North, West, or even the East–this is the motherfricking South, all right?”
And just in case I didn’t understand that the first five dozen times, there was plenty more of this throughout my read.
Adding on, I have a behemoth-sized squabble over what some might consider small detail, and that’s with Rivenbark’s way of addressing not just the reader, but her family. Every time I spotted “duh-hubby” (which she sometimes shortens to just “Duh” or “hubby”), I thought my body would combust from an explosion of full-blown annoyance. For a short time I even wondered if his name actually was Duh until I read it’s Scott. This annoyance, however, also erupted each time I read “the Princess,” which is the name she often uses in reference to her daughter. No, I’m not a parent, so I can’t partake in that affection and pride a mother may feel. I can understand it, though, but it didn’t stop me from wishing my eyes could roll backward a full 360 degrees. The nickname alone sent bad shivers across my skin, and every time her daughter or husband were mentioned I found myself thinking, Oh no. Is this supposed to be funny? As for the manner in which readers are addressed: “hon” does not sit well with me, and the repetitious “y’all” grew on my nerves.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who drive convertibles and, well, the rest of y’all.
That’s right, hons. Thanks to a whopping birthday surprise from duh-hubby…
Y’all, hons, and duh-hubby all together, which sums up a great distaste I have. It’s as simple as that. Subjective, yes, but it’s the truth. Even if these elements were removed, I would still find myself dissatisfied because what I read hardly touched my funny bone.
I would look at reviews and ratings around the Internet and wonder what the hell I’m not getting. By the time I finally reached the last page, I felt glad it was over. This is not the emotion I like to have after I finish reading something. I want to be hit with What? You mean this is the last page? What am I going to do with my life now that it’s over? and then I’ll proceed to re-read my favorite parts and shove it in the face of everyone I know, because I want them to love as much as I love it. You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning was difficult to get through, but I’m one of those people who prefers to finish a book once I’ve dug into it. Besides, what good is a rating at all when I didn’t finish the book?
This isn’t to say that I am entirely humorless and didn’t find one part of this book entertaining. There are, in fact, several parts; albeit, there are fewer than I had hoped for and none managed to do mare than crack a small smile on my face. (Hence my disappointment.)
Extreme mom jeans even come in odious pale blue washes and feature an elastic waist that tells the world: ‘Why, as a matter of fact, my idea of a good time is dinner at the Cracker Barrel at four p.m. followed by a Murder, She Wrote marathon on TNT.’
Marathon runners squirt little packets of brown gel into their mouths every few miles to give themselves a burst of protein. I’ll join them as soon as they can condense that to tiny little lasagna casseroles.
are just a couple of examples.
I can imagine anyone reading this who is a devout Celia Rivenbark fan, or merely just a fan of this book, feeling discontent with an urge to shake me by the shoulders and shout, “What a clearly inadequate taste in humor! How can you not find this funny?” I know, I have read the reviews of praise, but I am not meant for this book. It might find a spot in the hearts of other people, but Celia’s humor and I do not seem to click.