For those with low housekeeping standards: She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel

If you are depressed about your housekeeping standards, you might take comfort from the memoir She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel. It’s the sequel to “A Girl Named Zippy.” Zippy’s father decides to lower the ceiling to save heat, and his family is so impressed by this improvement (“. . . we were astonished to discover that finally, one single thing in our house looked normal. . .”) that her mother invites her church friends to the house for the first time. The family goes about making the house as respectable as they can. The women arrive and notice the father’s weapons and ammunition, the collection of animal teeth, and the sanitary napkins in the open cabinet. Soon the guests hear an unusual sound coming from the ceiling. “It was mice, and from the sound of it, about fifty of them. They were apparently being disgorged from one of the holes in the original ceiling that Dad hadn’t bothered to patch when he hung the new one. . . All of our cats leapt up on the backs of the furniture in agitation, staring at the ceiling and making growls deep in their throats. The dogs watched the cats, interested.”

When they find rats in the basement, so the father loads the place with poison and collects the dead ones daily in garbage bags.

So do you feel better now?

Another thing that struck me about the book is how the heroine, who is fazed by nothing (and why not after growing up in that house), hates school and is a terrible student. She has to sit on her hands to keep from fidgeting, and visits the emergency room regularly. If she were growing up today, she would have been tested, analyzed and put on Ritalin. But they left her alone and she became a brilliant writer.

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