Haven Kimmel   A Girl Named Zippy  
Haven Kimmel    
Interview with Haven Kimmel


Read an excerpt from A Girl Named Zippy

  A kindergarten report card summed up the young Haven Kimmel as someone who "is disruptive in class. Colors outside of the lines. Talks out of turn." Instead of registering disappointment, her parents promptly congratulated her for this achievement. Encouraged, their daughter developed a distinctive personality through her own characteristically sprightly rules. This same infectious anarchic spirit animates A Girl Named Zippy, Kimmel's autobiographical recollections of her childhood in a small midwestern town. It is a memoir that disrupts other memoirs, colors outside of the lines, and talks out of turn before skipping down to the drugstore for a twenty-six cent lemon phosphate.

In a series of hilarious yet poignant vignettes, Kimmel painstakingly recreates the quirky world of her childhood. Affectionately nicknamed after a roller-skating chimpanzee, Zippy Jarvis finds her whimsical name only the beginning of her unique adventures in tiny Mooreland, Indiana. Whether getting hypnotized by a carnivorous rabbit or watching her father borrow thirty-six hunting hounds and a raccoon to prove the restraint of his own dogs, Zippy brings to life her entertaining experiences and colorful characters with charmingly offbeat flair.

Reading the book in the course of a single night, I startled passengers on the subway with ceaseless laughter, nearly missed two connections, virtually neglected dinner, and went to bed hours late. When I mentioned this to Kimmel, she expressed delight at the reaction her memoir had produced. Yet A Girl Named Zippy provokes more than mirth or simple engagement; by inviting readers to make Zippy's story their own, Kimmel lovingly gives the cherished gift of her home.

In this issue of Bold Type, Haven Kimmel revisits her beloved childhood game of Interview and provides two excerpts from her memoir, A Girl Named Zippy.

--Kelley Kawano
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  Photo credit: John Rosenthal

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