Hi Everybody! Within the past year, I stepped outside my comfort zone, and started reviewing movies. Now, I am going to step a little more outside of said comfort zone, and review books. And that’s not all! If you are lucky enough to be reading this, then you will see that I will be…
…conducting my first interview! Hey, if you’re not growing, you’re dying, right? Well, Return to the ’80s has tons of life left in it. So, this will either be a lot of fun, or it will be a train wreck. Either way, you win!
Luckily enough, my first review is for an awesomely hilarious book – I Don’t Have a Happy Place. This is a memoir by Kim Korson. She is of our generation, so there are ’70s and ’80s references galore.
The book is basically a series of essays that cover periods of Kim’s life. The tone of the book is set immediately as she is a child, hanging out with a neighborhood friend who has everything – specifically lots of Barbie dolls, and Baby Alive. They then witness a traumatizing event. Kim’s reaction is quite unique, to say the least.
As we progress on this journey that is Kim’s life, we learn about her life as a cynical Canadian Jewish girl (who celebrates Christmas), and her family life. There’s something that happens at summer camp that made me say, “I can’t believe she did that!”
Her high school years are covered in a chapter/essay in which it is in the form of a series of letters that current Kim is writing to High School Kim. It was different from the rest of the book, but I thought it was pretty cool.
We then jump to Kim’s adulthood, and her move to New York. She shares her misadventures in the workforce, and meets Buzz, and they start a family of their own.
Kim’s stories are very funny. The book title may indicate that she is a sad person who feels sorry for herself. But, that is not the case at all. She just has this incredible ability (or is it a curse?) to see the worst case scenario in any given situation. The way she describes everything is hilarious. And there are many subtle things she does in her writing that had me laughing out loud. And I don’t mean the Facebook kind of laughing out loud where you see something humorous, and reply by typing LOL, even though you really did not laugh out loud. I mean, there was one time I was in a sandwich shop, reading the book on my phone, as I was waiting for my food to be made. I came across something that Kim wrote that made me crack up in front of several people.
And it’s not all negativity in this book. My favorite chapter/essay was Kim’s trip to Disney World. She may not have a “Happy Place”, but she did have happy moments here. But, that’s not what makes this section so great. It’s her reaction to these unfamiliar feelings that is just brilliant! It is fun when she sees her beloved Chip and Dale, and we go on a magical journey with her on the It’s a Small World ride.
I highly recommend this book. This would be a great beach read for this summer. Or for standing in line at your local sandwich shop. This book is my happy place now.
Now, here is my interview with Kim:
First of all, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself? Just kidding. I just read a whole book about you. A totally awesome book! I love your humor, and you are a very talented writer. I did not get bored for a second.
What made you decide to write this book?
My dear friend, who is a glass half full, often insists that happiness is a choice. I, on the other hand, champion pessimist, believe our outlooks have more to do with wiring. I set out to mine my experiences, focusing on areas where people are traditionally happy, to see how I fared. (turns out, not so well!)
Did you have any challenges in getting the book written?
Yes, myself. I was and remain my biggest challenge. I have been known to beat myself up on a good day, but I especially got in my own way during the writing process. My inner editor is cruel and I listened to her all the time. It was tough to get her to settle down.
Are there any particular authors/books that inspired you with your writing?
I am a huge fan of Tom Perrotta and Jonathon Tropper and Maria Semple—one line of theirs and I’m inspired. Same goes for David Sedaris, A.M. Homes, Nora Ephron. They’re all masters.
Would you say your summer camp more closely resembled the one in Meatballs, Ernest Goes to Camp, or Friday the 13th?
Definitely Meatballs, minus any sort of inspirational Bill Murray character. Unfortunately, I never ran any races or got slow-clapped or learned a damn thing.
You moved around a few times. Do you have a favorite city/town that you lived in?
Manhattan and Brooklyn had many charms but Vermont finally feels like home. I worried that all the quiet and nature would either make me feel lonely or scared, or worse, let me hear myself think but it turned out to be quite the opposite. Who knew nature would be so delightful?
I love how you peppered several pop culture references throughout your story. What were some of your favorite television shows?
As I say in the book, I was raised by a 19 inch Zenith. TV was everything to me growing up—friend, teacher, mother. My first loves were Happy Days, Soap, Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, Taxi, Maude and Rhoda. Man, I wanted to be Rhoda.
I love your sense of humor. Were you inspired by any particular comedian?
I love a good curmudgeon like Larry David or Garry Shandling, or someone who focuses on the wrong things, like David Sedaris.
In high school, which character from The Breakfast Club could you relate most to?
A. The Brain (Brian) – Anthony Michael Hall
B. The Jock (Andy) – Emilio Estevez
C. The Criminal (Bender) – Judd Nelson
D. The Princess (Claire) – Molly Ringwald
E. The Basket Case (Allison) – Ally Sheedy
I think I was the basket case who hated the princess because I probably wanted to be the princess because she got to make out with Bender. Wait a minute—didn’t we learn in that movie that we were each the brain, jock, criminal, princess, basket case? Wasn’t that the point? I can promise you I was never the jock or the brain. I did however steal some Unicef money once.
I really enjoyed reading about your Disney trip. Do you have any plans to go back any time soon?
Would you believe I’m the only one in my family who wants to go back? (I wish I was kidding.)
Do you have plans to write more books?
I am currently writing a novel. It won’t be about myself this time, at least not as blatantly. This one is about a theater.
Finally, I may have a possible Happy Place for you. Imagine yourself running around with Chip and Dale, busting Donald Duck’s balls. How does that make you feel?
Like I want no part of Donald Duck’s balls.
Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions. And thanks for sharing so much of your life in I Don’t Have a Happy Place. You gave me a Happy Place, because I think of some things you wrote, and I just crack up. I look forward to reading any more work you put out.
One small note in this interview: The UNICEF incident she mentions, in “The Breakfast Club” question, is mentioned in the Disney section of the book – specifically in the “Small World” part.
I would also like to thank Wunderkind PR for the opportunity to review this book.
There are several places to buy I Don’t Have a Happy Place:
Barnes & Noble
Simon & Schuster
Let me know if you enjoyed this interview, and if you would like to see more of these interviews.