Need a Quick, Funny Read? Try Family Gems

Family Gems, not Family Jewels, you perv. Nancy used to go to an office where a Daniel and she hung out and collected a paycheck. Some work got done, but a lot of play got more doner. Daniel and his accomplice wrote a book which was just released. She and I read it while we were on our way to trade bourbon for silver and turquoise with the Indians.

Manuscripts are sometimes rejected by agents based on the first sentence.

In practice, none of the agents got past the first page of any 3-page submission. Some they read to the bottom of the first page, but then they started rejecting them before they got that far.

Starts with dialogue.” Toss.
“Starts with weather.” Toss
“They’re in an elevator!” Toss
“Starts with a prologue!” Toss.

Hell’s Bells, The Fresh President’s book was rejected.

Given that it was written by Daniel, I thought I should give Family Gems a go. After all, I was on a plane with nothing else to do, what could a hundred pages hurt? Especially since it’s only a total of 164 pages.
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Literally the first sentence Family Gems had me hooked. This is a fun, fun book. The concept is intriguing. Would you be interested in reading the regular letters between two sisters?

Sure you would! Who doesn’t like to eavesdrop?  Daniel writes as Ruby and his co-author Jim writes as Jewell, the time is late summer 1976 to spring 1977. Before email, when getting a long distance call was still a big deal.

These are Eastern Kentucky women. But I think anyone with a sister they are close to will identify with some of the letters. Through their letters they laugh together, complain together, cry together, get mad together, but in the end, they are still each other’s best friend and confidant.

Jewell and her family are still living in, and dealing with, Buck Creek, Kentucky. Ruby and her husband have moved to retire in Falstaff, Arizona.

When I read this book, I found myself smiling. Every once in a while, I found a laugh out loud passage:

Ruby writes…

Teensie can still do hair OK, but she’s always smoking one of those long Virginia Slim cigarettes…when she starts spraying the Aqua Net in one hand with a cigarette in the other, I’m afraid she will blow my head off.

As you might expect other characters weave in and out of the letters. You will believe they actually exist and not just there for a plot line.

Jewell writes a column for the local Beattyville Weekly Word:

…this year the talent category has been deleted due to the fact that the PA system was shorted out …by the lovely Karla Kaye Kissenger, who will not be competing this year as she is in the fourth grade.

Nancy Van Zant (very loosely based on my wife) sets up a trip for Ruby to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Ruby is beside herself with excitement…

…last chance to get real intoxicated and act like a fool before you have to repent and give up stuff to show how sorry you are before celebrating the crucifixion of our precious Lord and Saviour.

Ruby’s excitement turns south quickly as she discovers that New Orleans is the “big, old, lobby of Hell.”

Interspersed among the letters are authentic family recipes. I skipped over those, but I sure hope Nancy gives a few of them a try!

I enjoyed this book a lot. Two sisters writing about their everyday lives. Who da thunk it?

July 4, 1976

Buck Creek, KY

My Dearest Ruby,

Do you remember the time when Mama told Connie he was freezing her pussy off?

Great first sentence for a book, right? Read the rest of that letter and Ruby’s reply at the author’s site.

Buy it, read it, and then come back and let me know if you just didn’t enjoy the heck out of it.

flourish

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