Customer Reviews: Over Easy
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on April 19, 2014
I've been a huge, huge fan of Mimi Pond's work ever since I found her first book, Secrets of the Powder Room, in the 80's. I still have my carefully preserved but well loved copy and still think it's the funniest, most charmingly drawn collection of comics I've ever seen. Mimi disappeared {I later found out she took time away from cartooning to raise her children} and now she's back with this beautiful, elegant, deeply felt, fictionalized memoir of having to drop out of art school when her funding dries up and going to work at a restaurant in Oakland. I pulled it open on the subway and had to stop myself from cackling and snorting out loud on a crowded train.
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on April 18, 2014
First of all, I know Mimi Pond, we’ve corresponded extensively, she blurbed my first book, and when my (then) six-year-old son was in a heavy Pee-wee’s Playhouse phase and I discovered that her husband, Wayne White (the now famous artist), who essentially created that show (Mimi also wrote an episode) voiced the character Roger the Monster, Mimi offered to have Wayne call my son as Roger the Monster. (Terrified, my son declined). Around that time I was lucky enough to read the novel that would become Over Easy. The prototype was good enough to make the bestseller lists, I was convinced, but I guess (those of us who’ve taken a long time to make it like to say) it was better that she work an extra five or six years on it, painstakingly drawing the thousands of requisite frames and hand-lettering every last word. I was thrilled when I heard this was coming out (at last) because years after I read the original I could still, unlike most of the other books I read in that period, recall much of it clearly and fondly. Mimi grew up in dreary sunny military San Diego (as did I), but escaped to “seedy and gritty” Oakland where she felt useless in art school. By chance (or by fate) the money ran out and she landed a job as a dishwasher in one of the most enviable cafes in literary history, the Imperial, with real beakers of cream, the high-octane “narcotic” smelling coffee, hard-nosed but good-looking waitresses in thrift-store dresses, KSAN blaring Elvis Costello, and anything you liked in your “fluffy pastel yellow” omelet including crab and chicken. The customers, Mimi tells us, could flirt with each other in the mirror behind the counter. Over Easy captures the disaffection, permissiveness, motley wild nihilism and hippie-annoyance of California in the 1970s. It’s a capsule of history, required reading for those who wonder how one minute we would be nodding our heads like drugged cows to The Starland Vocal Band, the next minute shouting furiously shaved and shorn about killing the poor. She’s also nailed what it’s like to work in a restaurant (I’ve cooked in eighteen of them), the power struggles, temporary romances, luscious vapors, godawful grunge-encrusted rubber mats, intractable customers, and the dive bar where the employees convene to commiserate after the shift. Her central character, a real-life Rabelaisian she calls Lazlo, the manager and culinary patriarch of the Imperial, rules by jokes and dreams, saves and salves with drugs and charm, spontaneously turns Chinese, and issues the while such erudite phrases as “When I got up this morning I was sure I was a minor figure from a Samuel Fuller film noir, destined to be shot dead in an alley…all before the second reel…” Lazlo is the crown jewel in Over Easy (I feel as if I know him, wish that I could’ve cooked at the Imperial, and miss him, even though I never met him). Yes, I know (and admire) Mimi Pond, her hawk eye and razor tongue, her funny vulnerability and deftness turning a phrase, but I can guarantee that unless you don’t have a sense of humor or you get pickle-lips at the folly of men, then you will probably read this book in two days and love every minute of it.
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on April 23, 2014
Over Easy takes place at the end of the 1970s, that murky era when we loped groggily past the nightmare of Watergate and had not yet awakened to Morning in America. The Stones, a full two decades away from their transmogrification into today's walker-rockers, were still making vital rock and roll that carried broad appeal as disco died, and the counterculture traded in its love beads and fringe for black leather and safety pins. Notwithstanding the changing times, the currency of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll remained the same. Caught in the middle of this tectonic shift (rather apropos for the book's northern California setting) is Margaret, an art student who, thanks to a financial crisis, winds up working at the Imperial Cafe, a culinary Emerald City with a cast of co-workers, patrons and attendant riffraff even more colorful than those encountered by Dorothy Gale.

Mimi Pond, who blends prose in the vein of Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson and even de Tocqueville at times with graphics in the vein of Roz Chast and R. Crumb, tells a broad array of stories through Margaret/Madge's experiences. At the forefront is her coming of age tale, but we also get ancillary commentary on race relations, gender identity, the sexual revolution, female empowerment, the celebration of coming out, even the emergence of the foodie movement and coffee snobbery!

Early in the story, Margaret marvels at the broad and adventurous variety of omelet fillings offered by the Imperial Cafe. It makes for a nice metaphor because Over Easy is exactly that - a tantalizing offering packed with a variety of ingredients that blend surprisingly well and leave you incredibly satisfied at the end. Anyone who even has vague remembrances of this gritty little slice of time (whether that's due to youth or "other factors"), will enjoy this book immensely.
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on June 6, 2014
My Goodness Gracious Mercy Sakes Alive. That is what my Grandma used to say. I never understood this till I was a Grandma myself. Being a grown up in the year 2014 sometimes is hard, but when you have had life experiences similar to Mimi Pond, in her fast paced, slow style, kick your brain into gear and remember things and places and people and stories that would curl your Grandmas hair' kinda experiences...and they are drawn and written in such a way that you literally can not put the book down...that's what I call satisfying.

My 'Aurora Smorgasbord' hostessing days, my 'Burger Mountain Soda Fountain' bricking the grill and frozen fingered ice cream serving days, (Old Houston Oilers fans will remember the quarterback Dan Pastoreni and his foray into food-ball) Breakfast waitress at the Boise Holiday Inn, and on and on...for me, this book is a delight beyond measure, because, somehow, the telling of the adventures, makes me painfully and hypnotically aware that its a miracle some of us made it out alive. (Spoiler alert: ) The witty banter, the music, the drugs, the customers, the underlying art in the blood, the growing pains, the sex....the freak show and all the love.....I mean it is great to be a grown up. This is a book for grown ups , God Bless our Little Hearts and Katy Bar the door.
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on May 1, 2014
Mimi Pond's graphic novel, based on her days waitressing at Mama's Royal Café in Oakland, is brilliant and funny, both in its story and in Mimi's wonderful art. I can also testify to its realism, since I first met Mimi as a customer, waited on by her! I bought my copy at an INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE where Mimi was reading and signing... But go ahead, click! Buy it from Amazon! But whatever you do... buy it!
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VINE VOICEon June 20, 2014
Over Easy is a sweet autobiographical graphic novel of Oakland in the 1970s. The main character is Margret (Madge) who is an art school student whose student aid runs out (apparently back in the day you could not go infinitely in debt as you can now). She gets a job at a hip Oakland Cafe, inhabited by a colorful group of people. The story makes for an enjoyable and nostalgic read. This is not the Oakland of the Black Panthers and the "bad old days" elements are missing. But I didn't find this detracted from the charming story. Memory is inherently fictional for all of us and it's nice to have sweet memories, even if they are only part of what happened.
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on September 2, 2014
Mimi Pond, I am so very sorry that even though you spent hours upon hours, months upon months writing and illustrating "Over Easy" I devoured it in one sitting. Couldn't put it down. The illustrations are so expressive. What a fun, fabulous story that reminds me of my own youthful past in food service and college in the late 70s. Somebody had to say it. You said it well!
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on November 10, 2014
This book took me back to the same time as the author. I remember the time when people wanted to become artists. When creativity was as important to people as anything. I knew people like the ones Mimi described in her book about her coming of age. For me it was a wonderful time full of discovery and tons of fun.
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on March 26, 2015
Maybe because I was raised on the underground comix of the 1970's, or because I've been a waitress; I just didn't find enough to really care about. A lot of work went into this book but it just had a scratching the urface feel about the stories that really lrft me want more. Too bad too: I hadn't bought a comic book since the 1990's or a graphic novel since the oughts! It was over too easy, I guess.
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on October 7, 2014
Great Introspective Memoir. Found Mimi's writing immersive and a lot of fun to read. Her time at the Imperial as a waitress is a great peek into the 70's and watching her grow is quite a treat. Highly recommend.
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