A Review of Southern Fried Child by Jimmie Meese Moomaw

By Mack Spenser
The Daily Review, Morgan City, LA

“Slice of life” recurs through the practice of all the arts, but especially in writing. Jimmie Moomaw cuts off generous slabs of life in Brookhaven, Miss., during her childhood and teenage years in her memoir, Southern Fried Child ... In Home Seeker’s Paradise.

Much as chicken or slabs of steak are immersed in oil to be “Southern Fried,” anyone reading this engaging volume will be completely immersed in the small-town world of Brookhaven, where doors are never locked and needy neighbors are welcome to help themselves.

Moomaw surely couldn’t have helped but grow up “Southern Fried” herself in the Meese household as the late-arriving only child, doted on by loving but alcoholic parents and known by most of the town populace.

She was a Baptist child in a Catholic school, a shy child who was a bill collector for her Daddy, an animal lover and pet collector with an early and enduring passion for fishing.

And in the small town of Brookhaven, she was acquainted with Sister Clare, who helped her get over an early fear of “penguin people.”

With Dewey Jackson and Stinky Martin, the “professional grievers” of Frank Martin’s funeral home, which was a handy but unlikely playhouse for Jimmie and her friends.

With Crazy Lola, whose wild schemes and questionable hygiene elicited the whole spectrum of emotional responses especially when she tried speaking in tongues and laying her hands on Jimmie to drive out devils.

With Ella May Winston, a wise and wonderful black woman who helped raise a young Jimmie Lonnie Meese and gave her her first lesson in assertiveness training.

With a whole cast of characters that brings to mind the old truism, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Readers will identify with the hopes and fears, smiles and tears of a young Mississippi girl, expressed in an authentic Southern voice. Southern Fried, even.

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