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We're Just Like You, Only Prettier: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle Paperback – January 13, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After winning Southern women's hearts with her SEBA bestseller Bless Your Heart, Tramp in 2000, Rivenbark has penned a new-and equally sidesplitting-collection of essays, offering Northern and Southern sisters alike a woman's "take on those irksome little yuks in daily life." Although she warns certain readers (Yankees, namely) that they may need a Southern lexicon to decipher her folksy, down-home prose style, Rivenbark's focus on familiar topics like family, relationships and child rearing should appeal to most females, regardless of geography or age. Marked by a feisty, sarcastic tone and tempered with plenty of cries of "yoo hoo" and "Well, shit," even chapter titles (e.g., "Stop Watching Your Plasma TV and Start Selling Your Plasma: How to Become Honest-to-Jesus White Trash" and "Here Comes the Bride: Let's Just Get 'Em Hitched Sometime Before We See the Head") don't escape the author's wry humor. The most mundane situations become laugh-out-loud scenarios. When, for example, Rivenbark is confronted by the "Pre-School Nazis" and intimidating "granola moms" at her four-year-old's school, she admits asking her daughter to lie about what she had for breakfast (a foil-wrapped breakfast bar instead of the required "scrambled eggs, a bowl of real oatmeal-the kind you have to cook on top of the, uh, you know, stove-two slices of whole wheat toast and a glass of soy milk"). Rivenbark is a hoot, and her book will be best enjoyed while listening to the Allman Brothers Band and eating "a plate of, what else? collards and cornbread."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“The most mundane situations become laugh-out-loud scenarios ... Rivenbark is a hoot.” ―Publishers Weekly

“I loved Celia's book; it made me want to get myself a doublewide, head on down to Mama and them's, and start mowing my own lawn. I never knew that Southern folk had time set aside from cooking the best food in the world to grow such marvelous senses of humor. For a Yankee like me, Southern life has always been fascinating, but who knew it was so pants-wetting funny (like watching a hillbilly bang his head repeatedly on the door of the outhouse, because I've seen that, you know)? And there's also the mention of 'making doody,' which is always a shoo-in for me. Celia's book rocks; everyone is going to love it.

P.S.: How much prettier is she than me?” ―Laurie Notaro, author of The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club

“When the aliens come to study us, I hope they find Celia Rivenbark's work prominently displayed. She is one of our greatest domestic anthropologists, digging up and airing all those things we like to think others don't know. In other words, the truth. She knows the South and she knows women, but that's just the tip of it all. I think she might very well know everything. I don't know when I have laughed so loud and so long. I am forever a devoted fan.” ―Jill McCorkle, author of Creatures of Habit

“Celia Rivenbark's collection of essays, We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, is a must-read for anybody who wants a funny, no-holds-barred look at today's South, from white trash in all its glorious permutations, to Yuppiedom.” ―Haywood Smith, author of The Red Hat Club

“I laughed so hard reading this book, I began snorting in an unbecoming fashion. I loved it nonetheless. I'll be sending copies to everyone, especially my baby's daddy.” ―Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy

“I thought I was Southern until I read Celia Rivenbark's book. . . . What a funny, smart, and irreverent writer she is!” ―Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031231244X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312312442
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Celia Rivenbark was born and raised in Duplin County, NC, which had the distinction of being the nation's number 1 producer of hogs and turkeys during a brief, magical moment in the early 1980s.

Celia grew up in a small house in the country with a red barn out back that was populated by a couple of dozen lanky and unvaccinated cats. Her grandparents' house, just across the ditch, had the first indoor plumbing in Teachey, NC and family lore swears that people came from miles around just to watch the toilet flush.

Despite this proud plumbing tradition, Celia grew up without a washer and dryer. On every Sunday afternoon of her childhood, while her mama rested up from preparing a fried chicken and sweet potato casserole lunch, she, her sister and her daddy rode to the laundromat two miles away to do the weekly wash.

It was at this laundromat, where a carefully lettered sign reminded customers that management was "NOT RESONSIBLE" for lost items, that Celia shirked "resonsibility" her own self and snuck away to read the big, fat Sunday News & Observer out of Raleigh, NC. By age 7, she'd decided to be a newspaper reporter.

Late nights, she'd listen to the feed trucks rattle by on the highway and she'd go to sleep wondering what exotic cities those noisy trucks would be in by morning (Richmond? Atlanta? Charlotte?) Their headlights crawling across the walls of her little pink bedroom at the edge of a soybean field were like constellations pointing the way to a bigger life, a better place, a place where there wasn't so much turkey shit everywhere.

After a couple of years of college, Celia went to work for her hometown paper, the Wallace, NC Enterprise. The locals loved to say, as they renewed their "perscriptions," that "you can eat a pot of rice and read the Enterprise and go to bed with nothing on your stomach and nothing on your mind."

Mebbe. But Celia loved the Enterprise. Where else could you cover a dead body being hauled out of the river (alcohol was once again a contributing factor) in the morning and then write up weddings in the afternoon?

After eight years, however, taking front-page photos of the publisher shaking hands with other fez-wearing Shriners and tomatoes shaped like male "ginny-talia" was losing its appeal.

Celia went to work for the Wilmington, NC Morning Star after a savvy features editor was charmed by a lead paragraph in an Enterprise story about the rare birth of a mule: "Her mother was a nag and her father was a jackass."

The Morning Star was no News and Observer but it came out every day and Celia got to write weddings for 55,000 readers instead of 3,500, plus she got a paycheck every two weeks with that nifty New York Times logo on it.

After an unfortunate stint as a copy editor--her a*s expanded to a good six ax handles across--Celia started writing a weekly humor column that fulfilled her lifelong dream of being paid to be a smart a*s. Along the way, she won a bunch of press awards, including a national health journalism award--hilarious when you consider she's never met a steamed vegetable she could keep down.

Having met and married a cute guy in sports, Celia found herself happily knocked up at age 40 and, after 21 years, she quit newspapering to stay home with her new baby girl.

After a year or so, she started using Sophie's two-hour naps to write a humor column from the mommie front lines for the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The column continues to run weekly and is syndicated by the McClatchy-Tribune News Services.

In 2000, Coastal Carolina Press published a collection of Celia's columns. A Southeast Book Sellers Association best-seller, Bless Your Heart, Tramp was nominated for the James Thurber Prize in 2001. David Sedaris won. He wins everything.

Her second book, We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, published by St. Martin's Press, was the winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Nonfiction Book of the Year and was a finalist for the James Thurber Prize for American Humor. Jon Stewart won. He and David Sedaris probably went out drinking afterwards. I'm sorry, did that sound bitter?

Celia lives in Wilmington, NC, with her husband, Scott, Director of Government Relations for New Hanover Health Network and author of the true-crime bestseller, Innocent Victims. Their daughter, Sophie, attends elementary school where she grudgingly wears a very uncool uniform. When she isn't writing books, magazine articles or speeches, Celia enjoys watching old episodes of "The Gilmore Girls" while eating anything from Taco Bell.

She reports that the proudest day of her life was the one in which the Sears truck showed up to deliver a matching washer and dryer and neither one of 'em had to go on the front porch.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kami Stansbury on December 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am a victim of Hurricane Katrina. Just before the storm, I bought this book because I am huge fan of southern lit. After the storm, our house was fine but we were out of power for a couple weeks. One of the highlights of the storm was sitting around and passing this book and taking turns reading excerpts to everyone. With so much destruction and devastation around us, it was nice to laugh till we cried, instead of just crying. The men laughed just as hard as we did at a "girl book" We read the book and looked forward to better days.

KS Hattiesburg, MS
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was laughing out loud all over several airports as I read this book. It IS funny, but much more crass and much more derogative of other people than I expected. I was briefly allowed the privilege of living in the South and bought this book as my celebration and induction into the southern belle club. Very true to life, a belly-aching laugh of a read, but you have to be prepared to filter out some profanity, etc. I probably wouldn't buy it again and only gave it to my sister to read because she knows me well enough to know my character. Decide for yourself what you want to take in, and what you don't. 3-star rating is because of the items mentioned above - otherwise it would get a 4.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've never read a book in a weekend. Ever. But, I couldn't put this book down! Born and raised in Richmond, VA (which any true Southerner will tell you, is much further south than Atlanta, GA), I completely relate to Celia Rivenbark's rants about Mommy Wars, southern life, and mullets. Unfortunately, I'm just not elequent enough to describe how wonderful this book is. Celia, if you read this, you've gained a loyal fan, and I plan on spreading the word about this book around the office tomorrow... after the painful, but inevitable, staff meeting.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By azaleabell on March 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This hysterical follow-up to BLESS YOUR HEART, TRAMP kept me laughing and crying throughout every riotous chapter. Celia Rivenbark is a must read for all Southern women and the rest of the nation that doesn't understand them. You'll learn what it's like to be an oh-so-not-the-junior-league working mother, from cereal bars in the car on the way to pre-school, only to discover their teacher makes them tell the class what they had for breakfast("the most important meal of the day") to why daddies should NEVER, EVER be allowed to dress the children for public appearances, and countless other insights that had me laughing out loud for hours and making my Mid-western friends listen to excerpts over the telephone. I'm compelled to wear my little fake tiarra while I read it! I can't wait for Celia's next book!
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Celia Rivenbark does it again with a fabulous encore to her first book, "Bless Your Heart, Tramp." Celia's short essays are perfect for keeping by the bedside. Read a couple before bed and you're sure to fall asleep with a smile on your face. Although frequently compared to the "Sweet Potato Queen" books, I think Celia's books are a more accurate reflection of the "real" south and the people who live here. The south has become quite the melting pot of people from all over the country (and even some foreigners, believe it or not) and Celia does a great job of depicting the new southern woman who may, in fact, be from New Jersey or EVEN California. The northern stereotype of the southern woman who whiles away her days tending the tulips and daffodils, breaking only to beat the kids and get hubby an evening cocktail, doesn't exist. Celia's stories are hilarious and should ring true to anyone who's spent time in the south with an open mind and a sense of humor.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lisa C Noecker on December 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, is a whole lot like Bless Your Heart, Tramp...only funnier! This "tarnished Southern Belle" rings out loud and clear, giving her testimony of collards, chicken pan pie and bacon grease to a lost and hungry world. The beauty of the Rivenbark message is that she not only preaches to the choir of southerners--oh no--she invites all of those who seek, no matter their denomination, to turn in their hymnals and listen to the gospel according to Aunt Sudavee, Mama and Them, Princess Sophie and even Carmela Soprano. Sermons include Sister Celia's take on (1) child rearing: "Junior, you either get your scrawny butt off that floor right now or you can just kiss your banana Popsicles good-bye and don't even THINK about that Star Track lunch box!"; (2) men at baby showers: "(they) wear that frozen look of horror that is usually reserved for when they discover that ESPN's showing the world figure skating championships" and (3) weight gain: "30% of overweight people are suffering from the (fat) virus. Lordy, give us a telethon! We can all waddle to the center court at the mall, eat butter-drenched pretzels, and beg for bucks!" So come all ye faithful in need of a good revival and plop down the price for a hard-backed edition as a love offering for the Right Rev. Rivenbark. It's good for what ails you.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Angela Wright on December 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ever since I read the "Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love," I have been hooked on literature for Southern women. When I saw the title of Celia Rivenbark's new book, "We're Just Like You, Only Prettier," I knew this is an author for me. Everything she writes about is humorous and timely, at least for me...having a child when you're a little "more mature," having long pretty nails, taking your precious child anywhere, family, etc. Celia is a hoot! Now I can't wait to read "Bless Your Heart, Tramp." I read "We're Just Like You, Only Prettier" in one sitting. This is a wonderful, entertaining book!
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