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Book review from Ben Steelman, book editor at Star News, Wilmington, NC
Book review from Ben Steelman, book editor at Star News, Wilmington, NC

Wilmington humorist Ann Ipock continues in a light vein with “Life is Short, Pack Your Bags Now!”

Jacksonville, N.C., native Ann Ipock has filled a lot of roles. She’s handled a lot of jobs, including dental hygienist (at least until she caught the mayor’s mustache in her tooth polisher), and she’s acted in community theater. (Truvy in “Steel Magnolias” was one of her top roles.)

More recently, settled in Wilmington, she’s been a popular speaker and author of humorous pieces for the likes of Salt in Wilmington, Sasee, Columbia County Magazine and other publications.

Her fifth humor collection, “Life Is Short, Pack Your Bags Now!,” is now out and finding its way into local stores, serving up her version of regional, down-home humor.

Ipock does not write gags per se, nor does she tell funny stories. Rather, she tells stories funny -- the humor comes from how they’re narrated.

As the title suggests, much of the new book deals with travel, and Ipock family disasters, like driving into Banner Elk in the middle of a blizzard. Technology is another pet peeve: Ipock has trouble with Siri; when she tries to dictate text messages, “this” comes out “the us” (you can hear her saying it) and “Southern” comes out “seven.”

Her do-it-yourself projects never turn out as well as they do on the YouTube videos. (“I swear I’m going to divorce YouTube and start dating Pinterest.”)

As a columnist, Ipock seems to aim for the low-hanging fruit: road rage, Thanksgiving dinners, the (reported) demise of the Hostess Twinkie. (Twinkies are like Dracula; they can never truly die.)

Still, she finds the regional spin that the internet often misses, like the possessiveness certain little old ladies have toward their particular pew in church, or parental hooliganism at little girls’ dance recitals.

Her husband, Russell, a.k.a. “Oscar the Grouch,” comes in for more than his fair share of abuse. Actually, you have to feel for a guy who’ll don a tutu and join a church’s all-male production of the “The Nutcracker.”

Ipock will also milk nostalgia for all it’s worth, recalling the days when kids stayed out all day without adult supervision, and drugstores had soda counters that served up vanilla Cokes.

She also has an ear for localized speech patterns, from “I’m a gonna” (as in “I’m a gonna run out and do it later”) to “Ida wanna” (as in “Ida wanna do that again!”)

And, as a doting grandmother who’s caring for aging parents, she has a lot to say about “the Sandwich Generation.”

In short, if you think Celia Rivenbark has turned too nasty and too political, then Ann Ipock is the Southern writer for you. “Life is Short” (and any of its prequels) would make ideal presents for anyone on the “country” side of your family.

    Ann Ipock

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