“Then suddenly she began to wonder if she had turned off her oven before she had gone out in the yard to pick figs; or if she had fed her cat, Sonny, his breakfast yet. She also wondered what that boy in the ugly green shower cap and those other people leaning over, busy poking her, were saying. She could see their lips moving all right, but she had not put her hearing aid on this morning, and all she could hear was a faint beeping noise, so she decided to try and take a little nap and wait for her niece Norma to come and get her. She needed to get back home to check on Sonny and her stove, but she was not particularly looking forward to seeing her niece, because she knew she was going to get fussed at, but good. Norma was a highly nervous sort of person and, after Elner's last fall, had told her time and time again not to get up on that ladder and pick figs. Norma had made her promise to wait and let Macky, Norma's husband, come over and do it for her; and now not only had Elner broken a promise, this trip to the emergency room was sure to cost her a pretty penny.”
The musings in the paragraph above are taken from Fannie Flagg's latest comedy-mystery, Can't Wait to Get to Heaven. Flagg, the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, brings to hilarious life her small-town Southern characters, particularly Elner Shimfissle, the high-spirited octogenarian protagonist of Heaven. Elner, a favorite of just about everyone in Elmwood Springs, Missouri, inadvertently inspires the town to ponder the age-old question: Why are we here?
“Back in Elmwood Springs, the phone lines had been buzzing all morning with the news and latest reports about Elner. Out on the farm Elner's good friend Louise Franks had been up all night worried and wondering how she was going to tell Polly, her retarded daughter, about Elner. Polly didn't understand about death. How could she explain that Polly would never see Elner again? Louise burst into tears when Irene Goodnight called her and told her that Elner was alive. Tot and Ruby had been so busy answering questions and calling people that they totally forgot about feeding the cat, feeding the birds, or filling the birdbath, and Sonny the cat was not happy. He had just walked over to his dish and discovered that it was empty. This was a shock to him. His breakfast was always there at this time. He hunched down and stared at the dish for a while, then got up and wandered around the house. Then he came back to his dish and sat there thinking cat thoughts, wondering whether or not to take a nap or try to catch one of those birds that were flying all over the yard, also upset and wondering where their birdseed was. One old blue jay was squawking his head off, and three smaller birds sat in the birdbath looking for water to splash around in. Two squirrels sat in a tree nattering at each other. The old lady had always thrown a couple of biscuits out the back door for them by now. Something was not right. After a few minutes of debating the issue, Sonny opted to take a nap and went to his spot on the back of the sofa.”
Combining southern warmth with unabashed emotion and side-splitting hilarity, Fannie Flagg spins a tale as sweetly refreshing as ice-cold lemonade on a hot summer day. Elner's family and friends (and even townspeople who don't know her) all discover something wonderful in the course of her adventures, and so will anyone who ventures into this heart-warming saga of small-town life (and death). Be sure to read all about it!
Copyright © 2005, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.