Friday, March 2, 2007

Your Daughter's Quite a Character: Queen of the Oddballs by Hillary Carlip

In her ten-fact bio provided at the end of The Zine Scene, Hillary Carlip offered tantalizing hints about her past: she juggled and ate fire, performed in a punk rock band, and befriended famous songstresses in her youth.

"Wow," mused little 13-year-old Rie, "I wish she'd write about all those crazy things she did."

The funny thing about musings of that nature is that sometimes, when you're really lucky, they come true.

Queen of the Oddballs follows Ms. Carlip from her youthful days of being expelled from school for imitating Audrey Hepburn and dancing at a cotillion with children of the stars to tumultuous teen years where radical self-acceptance circles leave your butt itchy and your mind blown to winning The Gong Show and dramatic wooing of dancers on the set of Xanadu and I haven't even started telling you about the juggling or baking banana bread for Carly Simon:

All that week, bringing gifts of pumpkin, date nut, cinnamon-raisin and honey-walnut bread, recipes courtesy of The Tassajara Bread Book, Molly and I hung out in Carly's dressing room. On the third night, she added us to the guest list--a great relief, since with the $4.00 ticket price and the cost of baking ingredients, my weekly allowance was barely enough to keep up.

Her writing is inviting and very, very funny, and the cast is oddball enough that they positively have to be real. I especially love how Carlip shook things up with different story formats-diary entries for "The King Case," a letter for "Dear Olivia Newton John," and the 45 steps to fame for "Anyone Can Be a Rock Star; or How to Be an Impostor." Every story begins with a list of notable facts from the year in which it took place; all end with a collage of ephemera central to its plot. Never boring, always inspiring, Queen of the Oddballs is a must-read.

A few words of advice for us young oddballs from the author herself, from an interview at Pink World:

I was a total outsider, the weird, chubby writer girl, until I began to Think Pink, that is! Queen of the Oddballs, what advice would you give to readers who feel like no one gets them and that life is a bit sucky right now?
GO FOR IT! Be who you are – FULLY! Be an eccentric, a trail-blazer, somewhat mistrustful of the tasteful and the restrained. Act 45 when you’re 13, and 13 when you’re 45. Travel off the beaten-path. Do things unaccording to plan, and not only embrace your oddballness, but CELEBRATE IT! As long as YOU get yourself, and decide that who you are is freakin’ AWESOME no matter what, then others will think you’re awesome, too.

Queen of the Oddballs by Hillary Carlip, Barnes and Noble, Powell's


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