Haven Kimmel

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Haven Kimmel (born 1965) is an American author, novelist, and poet.

Life and career[edit]

Haven Kimmel was born Susan Elizabeth Jarvis ("Betsy") in New Castle, Indiana, and was raised in Mooreland, Indiana, the focus of her bestselling memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana (2001). The book is written from the perspective of Kimmel as a young girl, and in it she sheds light on the townspeople of Mooreland living there in the 1960s and 1970s during the author's childhood. The name of the memoir stems from the nickname her father had for her growing up; however, Kimmel does not publicly share her real given name, which she changed to Haven Skye at age 18 after Kentucky folk singer Haven Hughes.[1] Her second memoir, She Got Up Off the Couch, and Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana, is more history of her childhood, but it also tells the story of her mother, Delonda, who decided to return to college in her middle-age years to eventually became a teacher.[2] Kimmel states she never had the desire to become a writer when she grew up, but by the time she was 21, she says she had "given her life over to poetry," which she would go on to write for the next 15 years.[3]

Kimmel earned her undergraduate degree in English and creative writing from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and a graduate degree from North Carolina State University, where she studied with novelist Lee Smith. She also attended seminary at the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, has been married three times and has three children (Kat, Obadiah and Augusten- named after American writer Augusten Burroughs).

Haven Kimmel was a poet prior to writing the memoir of her early childhood. The Solace of Leaving Early (2002) and Something Rising (Light and Swift) (2004) are the first two novels in Kimmel's "trilogy of place" about fictional Hopwood County, Indiana. The third book, released in September 2007, is titled The Used World. Her other works include a second memoir, She Got Up Off the Couch (2005), a poetic children's book, Orville: A Dog Story (2003), and a retelling of the Book of Revelation in Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (2004), edited by Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet (ISBN 0-7432-3276-3). Her most recent published works include a children's book, Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House (2008), and the novel Iodine (2008), a psychological tale about a young woman with dark secrets.



  • The distance between Mooreland in 1965 and a city like San Francisco in 1965 is roughly equivalent to the distance starlight must travel before we look up casually from a cornfield and see it. (From A Girl Named Zippy, p. 2.)
  • Possibility, infinity, beauty—none of those words were right. [...] What he really wanted to say was: have you felt this? this phantom life streaking like a phosphorescent hound at the edges of your ruin? (From The Solace of Leaving Early, p. 40.)
  • Orville barked and barked against his chain. And right in the middle of a long summer day, when he had barked about how he was really a good dog in a bad mood, and how he missed that one-eyed doll, and how there was something so terrible about the feeling of a chain against a neck, everything changed, because a girl with cotton-candy hair moved into the little house across the road and Orville fell in love. (From Orville: A Dog Story, p. 18.)
  • "It's marriage, family, home, sentimentality, continuity, these are the lies that eat women like a machine." [...] "A Woman-Chipper, can you imagine how that would sell? Everyone, anywhere on the political spectrum, would want one." (From Something Rising (Light and Swift), p. 126.)
  • "She had done all these things and she was going to graduate summa cum laude, which meant Good But Loud, from the Honors College, and she had done it all in twenty-three months. It takes some people more time to hang a curtain." She Got Up Off the Couch, p. 189.)
  • "Once she had been thought dear, a treasure, the little red-haired Holiness girl whose laughter sparkled like light on a lake; now she stood outside the gates of her father's Prophecy, asleep inside his house. Her hair tumbled across her pillow and over the edge of the bed: a flame. [...] It was mid-December in Jonah, Indiana, a place where Fate can be decided by the weather, and a storm was gathering overhead." (From The Used World, pp. 2–3.)
  • "Do Not Walk on Grass!" (From Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House, p. 1.)
  • She drifted; fell into the horizon dream, which was sometimes a comfort and sometimes disconcerting. That's all the dream was: an endless horizon, everywhere she turned, no ground beneath her feet, no sky above. A line where two concepts either met or parted ways. No sun rose, no moon. The Horae were the seasons and their names signified time (heure): Lachesis, experience, or the accident in destiny. Clotho the inborn disposition. And Atropos, the ineluctable, Death Herself. Ianthe dreamed warm, the horizon did not alter, she thought of Weeds, and of the dark freezing house down the lane that no one could see. Colt never entered her mind. (From Iodine, p 150.)