Over 25 years old, it’s as laugh-out-loud funny as it was the day I first tried to stifle my guffaws reading it on the train. I decided to review it here when it fell off a bookshelf onto my head a couple of days ago. I thought this must be a sign.
In telling you what the book’s about, I can do no better than quote one of the Amazon reviews:
This is Florence King’s highly coloured, unique perspective on growing up in the Deep South of America with an English bibliophile for a father, a tomboy chain smoker for a mother and a grandmother obsessed with women’s gynaecology and turning her one grandchild into the epitome of the Southern Lady. Growing up with this kind of pressure in 1950′s America and finding out that you are bisexual and highly sexed is not an easy gig…
Miss King (I do not feel I can refer to her either as Florence or as Ms King) is a self-described misanthrope and political conservative. She takes no prisoners. Her writing is vivid, witty, intelligent and in places very touching, without a trace of sentimentality.
Like me, she was a somewhat serious and introverted child, in the company only of adults until her first day at kindergarten:
I wasn’t used to children and they were getting on my nerves. Worse, it appeared that I was a child, too. I hadn’t known that before; I thought I was just short.
Full of family arguments about “whether nervous breakdowns are more feminine than female trouble”, the book explores the concept of femininity brilliantly. Miss King’s grandmother, a grande dame of Southern genealogy, has failed to instil in her own daughter any rudiments of femininity and so pounces fiercely on the opportunity to do so with her granddaughter.
And so, accompanied by a magnificent cast of supporting characters of all ages, we follow our heroine through kindergarten, school, college and her first days as a writer. And we know that to some extent at least the femininity propaganda has had its effect:
No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street.