Praise for Jimmie Meese Moomaw’s Southern Fried Child in Home Seeker’s Paradise:
“Because of its essential deep contradictions, the South has always incubated storytellers — storytellers who could make meaning for themselves out of the reality of their lives, and for all the rest of us as we listen. In Southern Fried Child In Home Seeker’s Paradise, Jimmie Moomaw remembers with insight and compassion her complex childhood amongst Faulknerian characters who challenge the resourcefulness of a very clever girl-child. Like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, Moomaw’s young self is required to confront the evils that lurk in the beauty of the land, in the complex webs of family relationships, and in the tragedy of distorted race relationships. She recalls these stories of love in
cramped quarters, of love without security, with engaging humor and in so doing she witnesses to the resilience of the human spirit, her own included.”
–Dr. Kent Anderson Leslie, author of Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege, Amanda America Dickson, 1849-1893; University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1995. Movie, A House Divided, Sam Waterston, Jennifer Beals, Lisa Gay Hamilton, 2000.
“Southern Fried Child In Home Seeker’s Paradise is a delightful coming-of-age memoir! From a pony that performs tricks to delightful antics at the local funeral home, this book will delight all ages. Ms. Moomaw’s use of the language is worth the read. The truth of the story and its funny cast of true Southern characters make it a must-read. You will laugh out loud in places and that is a promise! Jimmie Moomaw is a natural-born storyteller.”
–Linda Ross Aldy, co-author, The Book of Druthers, Quail Ridge Press, 2003.
“Nothing is as precious or as fragile as memory, especially when those memories detail a time no longer tied to the living or even to a physical setting. As Southerners, we still spend an inordinate amount of time telling the uninitiated about our home places, groping for words and examples which “tell the truth” to incredulous listeners. But how do we tell the truth with love and humor when we know the depths of despair behind the comic stories or eccentric characters?
Jimmie Moomaw has told the whole story of her ‘Southern Fried’ childhood in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and she does it with delicacy, hilarity, love, grief, and sharp insight. In a day when memoirs can be classified into one of two categories–dysfunctional childhoods or ancestor worship–Jimmie writes the whole story of loving parents whose little girl was the center of their emotional universe and of the alcoholism both wrestled with all of their lives. Flawed, but determined to give Jimmie her dreams, her parents are remarkably creative.
There are sharp and vivid vignettes of dozens of people who peopled Jimmie’s childhood, some clearly eccentrics, like Lulu who has a son named Elvis Presley Junior Smith and who claims to be able to cast devils out of kittens, or Miss Dorothy the spectacularly toothy elocution teacher whose pupils gamely attempt to recite her favorite poetry with dramatic flair, but who only manage to be ‘what you’d get if you had a bunch of wind-up toys who could recite Byron, Shelley and Keats.’ There are the nuns — Mother Superior Freida whose ‘ethos was awesome; fierce, pious, patient, unbending, innocent, yet omniscient.’ And young and pretty Sister Clare, the kindergarten/piano teacher ‘who was the only nun [Jimmie] ever saw lift up the skirts of her habit a little bit and skip like a child.’ There is Jimmie’s Uncle Frank (married to Jimmie’s mother’s second cousin) who owns the local funeral parlor, the May sisters who beautify the women of Brookhaven (including regularly frying Jimmie’s hair with a hot perm) while wearing their own hair in bowl cut coifs, and a scrawny, choir robe-clad thirteen-year-old who enjoys burning down churches and half of Brookhaven for weekend entertainment. There are many more. Don’t miss this vibrant, funny, and poignant memoir of a Southern childhood. If you liked Angela’s Ashes and It’s All Over But the Shouting, you’ll love Southern Fried Child In Home Seeker’s Paradise.”
–Dr. Bridget Smith Pieschel, Director of the Center for Women’s Research and Public Policy at Mississippi University for Women; Former Director of Eudora Welty Writer’s Symposium; author of Loyal Daughters: One Hundred Years at Mississippi University for Women 1894-1984 and Golden Days: Reminiscences of Alumnae, Mississippi State College for Women.