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Life Is Short, I Wish I Was Taller by Ann Ipock, 2010
Starnews,  October 17, 2010
Ben Steelman
Book Review, 'Life Is Short; I Wish I Was Taller'

Jacksonville native Ann Ipock has been writing humor columns for quite a while now for the Georgetown, S.C., Times, Sasee magazine in Myrtle Beach and Columbia County Magazine.
     After living in the Pawleys Island area, she and her family relocated to Wilmington back in 2007. (Her husband, Russell, is business manager for Winter Park Baptist Church.) 

Now, however, she‘s working hard on making her Port City debut. Her new book, Life Is Short, I Wish I Was Taller, comes out this week, and two earlier collections, Life Is Short, But It’s Wide and Life Is Short, So Read This Fast, are coming out in new editions with brand-new cover art.
   

It’s a good time to get to know her.
    

Ipock inevitably gets compared to Celia Rivenbark; they’re both Southern, both smart-mouthed, and they cover a lot of the same territory.
    

The two, however, have rather different approaches. Unlike Rivenbark, Ipock is a grandmother—OK, a very young grandmother, but she does dote on 3-year-old Carly. (Once, she entrusted Carly with the family camera and ended up with several good snapshots of her feet and her torso, cropped off at the neck.)
    

For topics, Ipock turns to the headlines and the grocery-line magazines a lot less often than Rivenbark does, although she couldn’t resist the blood feud between two octogenarian sisters over one winning lottery ticket.
    

Rather, most of her columns flow, seemingly at random, from her everyday life—like walking through her dad’s well-settled suburban neighborhood and suddenly confronting a deer.
    

Like a lot of Southern humorists, Ipock doesn’t tell funny stories. She tells stories funny—in other words, delivery is all.

Her books, like Rivenbark’s, are largely recycled from her newspaper columns. Unlike Rivenbark, she doesn’t merge two or three into one chapter. Rather, each entry is still column length, usually no more than two pages or less. The effect is rather like a letter from that hilarious friend you haven’t heard from in months, but wish you had. Sometimes, Ipock will go on about the Food Network and such monstrosities as the Paula Deen turducken. (That’s the combination of a hen, stuffed inside a duck, which is then stuffed into a turkey.) She’ll explore the extremes of couponing (and wonder briefly about the divide between those who say “kew-pon” and those who say “coo-pawn”). Or she’ll go on about gardening, the way some male humorists go on about golf.
    
Poor husband Russell is a perennial target, although she does dedicate the book to him.
     
Ipock probably scores the most bull’s-eyes when she takes on The Ways Things Used to Be, when she was “raised on cornbread, collards and cliches” and when ordinary folks actually used expressions like, “If the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.” In the old days at least, the one sure way to bring a Southern male back into line was to threaten to Tell His Mama – even when he was well into his 50s.
   
Having heard her, I have to say that Ann Ipock is funnier in person than on the page. She’s still pretty good, in print, though, and “Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller” will make an ideal gift for dear friends. (In case you were wondering, she’s 5-foot-4.)
June 1st, 2009
 

Ask Ann Ipock how she started in the writing game, and you’ll likely get two answers.

“Every other occupation I had was dangerous,” she said. “I was a dental hygienist, and I got the mayor’s mustache caught in the little brush. I wanted to be a chef but my stove exploded. I was a wedding planner, and I’m still not sure if some of my couples are legally married.”

The other version is a little less colorful. Ipock, a Jacksonville, N.C., native, was living in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area in 1991 when she was laid off of a sales job with a telecom company. She joined a writers’ group through Coastal Carolina University, and the group soon spun off on its own.

“We had novelists and poets,” Ipock said, “but humor is what I kept coming back to.”

Eventually, in 1998, she sold a package of her pieces to the Georgetown (S.C.) Times, and has been its regular humor columnist ever since.

“It’s South Carolina’s oldest newspaper – I’m very proud of that,” she said, “and I’m probably their oldest living writer.”

Ipock began publishing in other magazines, too, including Pee Dee (”It was kind of like South Carolina’s answer to Our State”) and Sasee out of Myrtle Beach.

Soon, the columns began to find their way into book form: “What Was It I Was Saying?” (now out of print) and “Life is Short, But It’s Wide,” which came out in 2003, followed by “Life Is Short, So Read This Fast” in 2006.

The original “Life is Short” book was supposed to come out through Wilmington’s Coastal Carolina Press, but the little publishing house went belly-up soon after editor Emily Colin finished working on the manuscript. Thus, Ipock began publishing herself under her “Goody 2 Shoes Publishing” Imprint.

Ipock and her husband Russell – a church business manager who’s sometimes called “Oscar the Grouch” in his wife’s copy – relocated from Pawleys Island to Wilmington early in 2007. And that’s how she wound up as the June guest for “Prologue,” the monthly book club co-sponsored by the Star-News and public radio station WHQR.

Ipock will be chatting with readers beginning at 7 p.m. Monday in the WHQR gallery, upstairs at 254 N. front St. It’s not necessary to read her books in advance, although copies will be on sale at Pomegranate Books, Barnes & Noble, Two Sisters Bookery and other locations, as well as at the book club meeting. (Fans can also sample her work at www.annipock.com.)

Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.

A self-described community theater buff – who once did a one-woman show based on her columns – Ipock has occasionally appeared with fellow local humor columnist Celia Rivenbark: “I wish I was as quick-witted as Celia is,” she said.

In the meantime, she finds herself with no shortage of material, from exploding kitchens to discovering that, all of a sudden, she qualifies for the “Senior Citizens” discount.

“My latest one is about bra-fitting, which I don’t usually get into,” Ipock said. “I don’t like to think of myself as prudish but -”

Ben Steelman, feature writer and book columnist for StarNews, Wilmington, NC

ben.steelman@starnewsonline.com

    Ann Ipock   
    843.457.5406

    amipock@ec.rr.com

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