Getting old is grand

Published 2:05 pm Monday, April 14, 2014

Angie Barker

Angie Barker

Book Review by Angie Barker

Kids are tiny idiots. It’s not their fault; they were born that way. Philosopher John Locke called it tabula rasa.

Hear me out. The theory is that we are born as blank slates waiting to be filled with information. It also means that when you’re a kid you have no idea how good you have it because you don’t have experiences and perspective. That’s probably why kids foolishly think being adult is cool and may even look forward to their inevitable transformation.

Email newsletter signup

I did.

I was an idiot. 0414.magGranny.Hooks.a.Crook

I remember sitting in my room late at night craving the deliciousness of a Whopper and feeling an angry dejection that I couldn’t simply go and get the burger. I imagined myself as a college freshman eating all the Whoppers I wanted. (Full disclosure: Most of my dreams involve food. I’ve learned to accept it.) I now realize there were a number of problems with my dream:

1. Transportation is expensive. It involves a loan, insurance, maintenance and gas.

2. Whoppers require money. See problem No. 1.

3. Whoppers are full of calories.

The freshman 15 would arrive and definitively destroy the unrealistic expectation that freedom has no downside. Yet, I’m nostalgic for a time when calories did not exist.

Author and Tribune columnist Julie Seedorf offers readers hope for the future in her novel “Granny Hooks a Crook.”

Protagonist Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt, aka Granny, subsists exclusively on a diet of ice cream, chocolates, doughnuts, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and wine. Like her name and her diet, Granny lives life large. Her preferred nightwear is furry lingerie. She loves flip-flops despite the footwear increasing her risk of falling. She even has hidden a miniskirt under the floor boards, which makes a good closet when she wants something to stay hidden and needs something to match her feeling of exhilaration. It’s her freedom skirt.

Granny hides most of her scandalous behavior behind closed doors because she needs the outside world to see her as a sweet, innocent, vulnerable old woman. She uses the senior stereotype to move invisibly through retail stores trying to catch thieves. No one suspects the old lady wandering around with a disheveled appearance could be capable of department store espionage, and if they did, her cane and weighted handbag would need to be licensed as dangerous weapons. She pulls off clumsy and incompetent like she’s on stage at the Globe. The only one in on her secret job is her boss, the sheriff, otherwise known as “The Big Guy.” Armed with a panic button and Big Guy’s quick response time, Granny keeps the stores of Fuchsia, Minnesota, safe from shoplifters.

I bet some of you are thinking I spelled Fuschia wrong. I also bet those people experience a giddy swell of superiority from catching grammar and spelling errors. It’s like a drug and you can’t wait to share it with the nearest bystander. “Look what I have found! An error!” I know that high well. Restraint is hard won for the word nerd. So I regret having to take that feeling away. There, their, they’re. Take comfort in learning that Fuchsia derives from a German botanist named Leonhart Fuchs.

Seedorf’s imaginary Fuchsia is quaint and quirky. It is the literary version of Star’s Hollow from “Gilmore Girls” or BlueBell on “Hart of Dixie.” It is a town that so seriously values its leisure, rock kicking, that it refuses to fill potholes or fix cracked sidewalks for fear that their pebble supply will dry up and then it’s bye-bye pastime. It is a place where a tree hugs back and a forest goes into hiding. It also possesses the ability to draw in citizens with rhyming or alliterate names at an amusing rate. And my personal favorite is the neighbor’s bacon-loving hound dog called Baskerville.

Fuchsia may be a small town, but it is alive and thriving. It provides Granny with a love interest, a rival and a thieving nemesis that plans to frame her for the recent break-ins happening all over town. Granny has her hands full, and if she can remember where she parked her car she just might save the day. The novel’s zany characters and insane situations keep the pace quick and the storytelling entertaining. Granny is like the octogenarian version of Stephanie Plum, Janet Evanovich’s hapless bondswoman. Both heroines exist in worlds where the escapism is served with laughter and snappy comebacks.


Albert Lea resident Angie Barker is an avid reader and has a degree in English literature from MSU-Mankato. Email her at