Friday, April 6, 2012

Fat Is the New 30 by Jill Conner Browne

Fat Is the New 30: The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Coping with (the crappy parts of) Life

About the Book (from the back):

The Sweet Potato Queens  are back and bawdier than ever in Southern belle extraordinaire Jill Conner Browne's ninth edition of the hysterical series. Having experienced pretty much ALL of the crappy parts of life, Browne feels it is her duty to render whatever assistance she can to her fellow sufferers - and she does so in her own inimitable fashion.

Her father taught her there are very few situations in life that we really and truly cannot change, and it is up to us to figure out how to either make fun OUT of them - or make fun OF them. And fortunately for the rest of us, Browne is well equipped for both. Including the exploits of the Queen contingent and her family, she delivers applicable tidbits like:

  • Thinking or talking about watermelon can save any negative situation.
  • If you get drunk in Scotland, you can't have your cow with you.
  • When sanity and reason fail, you can always cheerfully resort to ridicule.
  • Denial means that every situation is perfectly perfect.
More fun than a Cracker Barrel full of monkeys, Fat Is the New 30 will change your life - or at least give you ideas for making fun of yourownself.

In the book's 20 hilarious essays, Jill expounds on the (non-existent) perfect mother, also known as the Mom I’d Love to Meet (M.I.L.M), those poor PPJTSTTs (Pitiful People Just Trying to Survive Their Teenager), and why spa time should be considered a life necessity with legislation introduced to provide it. In the chapter, “All We Need is Love and Maybe a Dyson” Jill reminds readers why four-legged friends are the answer for most problems. “Life is hard on a good day. It‘s just not safe to be dog-free.” 

And the section “Etiquette for Recessions/Depressions/Inflations,” is a must-read for all of us who feel like we “got next-to-no money, no prospects for gettin‘ any and what little we do have won‘t buy much any more.” Of course, she doesn't skimp on the important of eating either and in the chapter “God Wants Us to Eat Up,” she includes recipes for every possible down-and-out moment that will have you drooling (or perhaps, rolling out of the kitchen after you try one). Jill’s most poignant piece, the essay on caring for her dying mother with grace and humor, might just be the crown jewel of the collection. 

About the Author: 

Jill Conner Browne

Jill Conner Browne is the multiple #1 New York Times bestselling author of nine Sweet Potato Queens® books and has created a global phenomenon--6,200 chapter groups in 37 countries--based upon her philosophy and world-view as recounted through these rollicking, raucous and riotously funny essays. Women and smart men understand that the bawdy, sassy, down-to-earth humor is simply the vehicle by which the greater message is conveyed--that is, one of self-reliance and empowerment, inspiring all to do what makes their hearts sing.

You can find Jill on Facebook! Review

Q&A with Jill Conner Browne, The Sweet Potato Queen

Question: The Sweet Potato Queens were born on a gleeful St. Patrick’s Day, back in 1982, when you and a few friends decided to get Queened-up for local parade in Jackson, Mississippi. Did you realize that parade would begin an international movement for women?
Jill Conner Browne: Yes, It was my Five-Year Plan. Are you kidding me? No! I had no idea I would become a cult leader! My only goal was to entertain myself—a goal that endures to this very day, I might add.

Question: Tell us a little about the annual Zippity Doo Dah Parade that happens at the end of March every year. Women come from all over the world, wear sequins, and march with bands, raise money for charity, eat and laugh. How does it all come together? (Let us live vicariously!)
JCB: We simply out-grew the other parade and started our own, which has been fantastic for the Queendom, the city of Jackson and most importantly, for Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. Queens (and Spud Studs) start arriving on Wednesday of parade week--March 21-25 for 2012--and overnight the city is overcome with sparkle. It is four days of fantastic: Arts, Eats & Beats in the Fondren Arts District, The Come On In Party, Big Hat Brunch, SPQ Big Hair Ball, Sal & Mookie's Kids' Carnival, Patty Peck Honda Car Giveaway, the beautiful "Night-Time Zippity Doo Dah Parade" immediately followed by the street dance, Pearls & PJs at the Hilton, and ending with the Bathrobe Brunch on Sunday morning. And it all raises money for sick kids—what could be better?

Question: Fat is the New 30 is your ninth book. Is there a theme that runs through all of your books, other than being stitch-in-the-gut funny?
JCB: Life is too short—and too LONG—to spend it doing ANYTHING that doesn't make your heart sing.

Question: You believe that humor is the best medicine, which is evident throughout the book since you make us laugh at even the "crappiest parts of life." How are you able to mix humor and happiness into nearly every life situation?
JCB: Oh, my Daddy taught me many useful things! One of the most important was this: There are very few situations in life that we really and truly cannot change. But when we do encounter one of those, the task at hand is to figure out how to either make fun out of it--or make fun of it. I am extraordinarily gifted in this department.

Question: Nearly all of your books, including Fat is the New 30, include some "you’ll have to roll me out of the kitchen" recipes. Do you test them all out? Which of the new recipes is your favorite?
JCB: Did I test them all? Have you SEEN me lately? If and when you do see me, you will note that I am wearing a very long jacket. Suffice it to say that if I am ever found dead in a short jacket, you will know that I was dead before the jacket went on. Yes, I tested all the recipes and they are poison! If you eat this stuff all the time, you WILL DIE--and you will die with a HUGE bee-hind--however, they are VERY good for your disposition. My fave? Why, I love them all, obviously! Can happily go from Scott-apeno Dip to Viney's Floor of the Hilton Minner Cheese to I-Can't-See-My-Feet Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.

Question: You’re a Southern Girl but there are Queens from all over the world. Do you think we all have a little Southern in us?
JCB: My "voice" is that of a Southern woman--on account of that's what I turned out to be (luckily)--but the experiences are universal so no Southern is required. However, if you are lacking in Southern, you can certainly get you some in my books and it will make you happy!

Question: What’s next for you and the Queens?
JCB: The Sweet Potato Queens Musical! I just got the first draft from Melissa Manchester, Sharon Vaughn and Rupert Holmes! It's always been my dream--and now it is happening! Of course, that doesn't require ANY effort on my part--which is so perfect--I can be entertained while lolling. Heaven.

Just a few quotes because I could have quoted the book in
its entirety here!

Possibly the very best survival tool ever devised is the Concept of Complete Denial. My seester Judy and I have made this our Life's Work. (Judy would like for it to be noted that she also has a minor in "Lolling.") Someone once told me that if you study and practice something diligently for five years, you can become a bona fide expert at it...

And MAMA. Well, Mama's approach to any and everything was simply to declare victory, no matter what the outcome. Whatever happened was just the way she planned it by the time it was over. It was like saying you're going to Texas, telling everybody far and wide of your travel plans for the Lone Star State, and shopping for Texas clothes - maybe even a new pair of cowboy boots and a HAT - to wear in TEXAS because that's where you're going. Only, you somehow end up in Vermont. JUST THE WAY YOU PLANNED IT...

We must admit, though, that we do feel that somewhat of a gauntlet has been flung down before us whenever we peruse the latest installment of People of Walmart. Surely you've seen those photos online? I cannot imagine that there is anybody alive on Planet Earth today who has NOT seen this truly stunning and ever-growing collection of photographs - but if not, well, then pause now and go look. I warn you - it is a serious time drain, nearly impossible to tear yourself away once you begin. And I can't say that you will be a better person for having done it either.

Where once we expected to see - might even say we relied on it - the butts on the BACKside of the person and the boobs on the front, now, more and more, thanks to the ever-more revealing outfits worn by unbelievably unfit Walmart shoppers all over the United States, we are subjected to the sight of back boobs and belly butts, in various stages of undress and display.

I don't know who it is, but there is SOMEbody in that house who is a major drama queen besides her. (Six year old throwing a tantrum because her pinata was being pelmetted.) This little bitty girl did not come up with all this angst in a vacuum. She has clearly seen and heard a similar performance prior to this fifth or sixth birthday part of hers. The language, the tone, the drama, the whole performance has got to be looking oddly familiar to somebody around there; it's way too sophisticated for a preschooler. 

"Big L Lesson" - You may not always FEEL good and you may not always BE good, but hunny, there is just no EXCUSE for not LOOKING good.

Easter is also noteworthy for being Break Out Your White Shoes Day in the South. Eventually, Memorial Day rolls around, which is, of course, White Shoes Day north of the Mason Dixon, but by then, it's practically too hot for shoes in the South.

Tales of Human Sacrifice:
     Family Crap - Including but not limited to Sibling Rivalry - which is never outgrown, even if everybody lives to be 93 and can't remember what they had for breakfast ... but can recount, in vivid detail, the list of Slights inflicted...

     Divorce - Involves the assignation of blame and the taking of sides, which can be entertaining...

     In-Laws - My advice? Try your best to marry an orphan with no living relatives, but failing that...

     Greed - Which you will see firsthand and aplenty if you have CHILDREN and/or SIBLINGS.

If you're under 40, it doesn't apply to you yet, but...If you're over 50, it's prolly time for a haircut. Let me suggest an exercise fo ryou: Go look up a photo of Hillary during the 2008 campaign. Fabulous. Great haircut, she looked like several million. Look at any photo of her in 2011. One three years ... hair makes her look haggard - as in "like Merle"...It's part of the whole "65 is actually a really cute, fun age" fantasy we (the Boomers) have got going, and at some point, it happens to us all...and we think, Omigod, this is my LAST CHANCE to have long hair, and we grow it out and it is just wrong. Our last chance to have it - and look GOOD in it - was actually some several decades ago...

My Review:

I have to say that Jill Conner Browne is one of my favorite authors. Her humor has been my entertainment from the very first book she wrote. I could not tell you when I’ve laughed and cried so much while reading a book. She captivates you with her down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is humor from the first page to the last.

I have every single one of her books so imagine my delight (jumping up and down here) when I received an email asking me to review her new book. As I said, I have been an avid follower of Jill since her book first appeared in Southern Living Magazine umpteen years ago along with an article about the Sweet Potato Queen’s Parade.

Fat Is the New 30 does not let the reader down. It picks up where any of her previous books leave off, making you laugh from start to finish. Through her words, the author has the unique ability to bring you into her life, holding you confined to your seat as you turn page after page.

By the time you finish the last page and close the book, you feel as though Jill has invited you into her life and confidence; and she just wants to help you through life’s vicissitudes. She teaches us how to survive raising those children (lovely as they might be) from infant to teenager to adulthood with humor and a little denial (well, a LOT of denial) thrown in. Because after all, isn’t that the best way to survive life?

Southerners are going to love this book. And, well, if you’re not a Southerner, you are going to wish you were! So, grab this book, the biggest tiara (and most sparkly) you can find, and a tall glass of Southern style sweet tea (you’ll want to refrain from drinking as not to snort the stuff as you become pomaded from laughter and thus, it WILL come out of places we Southern ladies don’t like to mention) – where was I – oh yeah – grab that tall glass of iced tea and sit and read for a while. You'll be glad you did.

Fat Is the New 30 as well as Jill's other books (because you won't want just one!) can be purchased through Amazon:

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  1. Jcb is truely a great talent, she has it all, congratulations, a really good post

  2. I forgot to say I downloaded this to my kindle, be well

  3. What a creative writer! I loved the comment about life being too short and too long. Nice interview.

  4. This was a riot! I loved it, quotes included!!!


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