In the nonfiction book I’m Dying Up Here, author William Knoedelsech writes that in the mid-seventies, there was “more to women’s comedy than vacuum cleaners and visits to the gynecologist.” So, reading You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning felt like a horrible step back in time. Celia Rivenbark’s humor deals a lot with the life of a domestic goddess and a whole, whole lot about sex – far too much about it, frankly. There’s plenty of bad language and bathroom humor to go along with it. Is the word “menstruation” actually funny? (The word “vagina” is mentioned too many times to count.) And then there’s the chapter that deals with American Idol Clay Aiken’s sexuality. Is this really enlightened humor? Hardly.
Someone far more charitable than this reviewer said that Rivenbark is “sassy and surprisingly foul mouthed.” I found her off-putting, and her attitude about life and living is anything but funny. Perhaps someone on the edge of being suicidal would find something redeeming in You Can’t Drink, but I did not.
If you’ve yearned and burned since the 1960s for the return of Totie Fields, this just might be the book for you.
St. Martin’s Press, $24.99, 256 pages
Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.