Celia Rivenbark is smart, sassy, sarcastic, syndicated, and a bit salty at times. Her latest collection of essays puts her right up there with Dennis Miller and Dave Barry as a writer who has x-ray vision right into our culture and mores.
After honing her skills in a series of newspaper jobs, Rivenbark found her niche as a successful humor columnist. YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING is the first of her books that I’ve read. And it is so good that I’m inspired to go back and read her previous works. Not only that, but I plan to keep this book on my desk at all times to give me a laugh on those days when the evening news makes me feel alternatively suicidal and homicidal.
Whether you are a Southerner or a Northerner, you will laugh out loud at the stories ranging from “fitness mommies” to “eco-geeks” (as she calls them). There’s one story about crackheads that I found particularly humorous: “Take Skipper and Poo,” she writes, “A local couple who were trying, despite an unfortunate addiction to crack cocaine, to have a Norman Rockwellian Thanksgiving dinner with their food-stamp turkey.” This hilarious situation begins with all the best intentions, but eventually ends with Skipper tossing the cooked turkey into his bicycle basket in order to trade it for drugs.
But there’s more to Rivenbark than her snarky outlook on everyday life. You see more of her softer side when she writes about her childhood and her loving relationship with her father, who unfortunately developed dementia before he passed away. While I’m certain that she takes poetic license with her anecdotes, each one has an element of reality to which we can all relate on some level. Whether we are wishing that the funeral director didn’t refer to our loved one’s cremated remains as “cremains,” or we are watching a marathon and secretly thinking that all the runners are nuts, it is like she is speaking to the reader on a personal level.
In addition to the delightful essays, jokes and stories, the author has included some of the South’s best, if not most well known, recipes, including Michelle’s Belly-Bustin’ Super Supper and Heavenly Deviled Eggs. Rivenbark jokes about being chubby, but she looks adorable in spite of all that wonderful Southern home cookin’. In any case, Rivenbark’s latest outing is a fantastic book that will keep you laughing at the minutiae of the world outside while giving you time to reflect on your own life. Buy two copies of YOU CAN’T DRINK ALL DAY IF YOU DON’T START IN THE MORNING, so you can keep one and give the other to your best friend.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on January 24, 2011