Firewater Pond


1985, Putnam’s Sons

Also published Sweden; Movie options: Charles Matthau Co., NBC

"Here is a genuinely funny comic novel (Kimball's first) wherein the humor arises from a vigorous plot and refreshingly human characters." 

Camp Wind in the Pines was once a Boy's Life kind of place where families could while away a few rustic days, but by the mid-80's it has already become what people in the nearby town of Norwood, Maine, think of as a rural slum--which sits, not incidentally, on 200 prime lake-front acres. In fact, a corrupt town selectman named Rutus Sny is scheming to steal the camp from its owner, Carl Mason, a sympathetic man with laissez-faire attitudes who rents to an eclectic bunch of people, chief among them a motorcycle gang known as the Mutants, Earl and Dolly Root, a grossly fat couple with a disgusting fondness for ""generic twinkles,"" and Zippy and Ruth Jones, two of the last surviving members of a 1960's commune (Zippy is a word-perfect portrait of a hippie cast adrift in the 1980's, still tripping, forever young). Everything changes with the catalyzing arrival of Larry Jones, Zippy's brother. They're twins, but Larry is Zippy's antithesis, an energetic, amoral con man who is, in his utter spuriousness, extremely funny. He steals several pounds of cocaine from the Mutants and uses the profits in a disastrous attempt to turn Wind in the Pines into a theme park (complete with totem poles, cowboys and Indians, and a rigged fishing contest). At the same time, he secretly joins forces with Rutus Shy in a grand attempt to cheat Carl out of the place once and for all; the two of them are finally foiled in a clever and riotous finale (which centers on Zippy getting his hair cut for the first time in 20 years), allowing Wind in the Pines to fall gratefully back into its ramshackle sleep of peace. Minor flaws here include several extraneous characters and a few too many subplots, but this is nonetheless a top-notch first showing by an extremely talented humorist.

— Kirkus Reviews

"I think it's a great comic novel. Kimball's examination of a loony crew of washed­ up sixties dropouts trying to turn a broken­down tourist resort into a going concern calls to mind the work of Tom Robbins, the Vonnegut of Player Piano and Cat's Cradle, and a twist of Richard Hooker's M*A*S*H. Kimball is humane enough to capture our hearts and wicked enough to make us laugh our asses off."

"My readers might think I wouldn't know a good comic novel from a chainsaw brochure, but I love to laugh and love the idea of the really comic American novel. I don't very often guffaw out loud, the way I did when I first read Thurber, but Firewater Pond did provoke that reaction. There was one point when I laughed until I thought I was going to wet my pants...just sitting here at the typewriter and recalling it, I've got a big grin spread on my face. A lot of people are going to read Firewater Pond. And love it."

— Stephen King


"Here is a genuinely funny comic novel wherein the humor arises from a vigorous plot and refreshingly human characters...a top­notch first showing by an extremely talented humorist." — Kirkus Reviews

"The storytelling is energetic and the disaster­rich plot has been orchestrated for maximum thrills." — New York Times

"Some of Michael Kimball's humor is black and some of it is blue, and he shoots it at us at a whiz­-bang slapstick pace that leaves us alternately laughing, squirming and gasping for breath." — Boston Globe

"Favorite new book read in '84: Firewater Pond, by Michael Kimball." — Stephen King, in The Maine Times

"Firewater Pond succeeds in part because it's consistent in tone and outlook; in part because its language crackles and pops. Kimball can make a character jump up live and kicking on the page." — Christopher Fahy, in Downeast

"The frantic goings on among the vivid if raunchy cast of characters should appeal to those who like realism combined with an eye for the ridiculous." — Publishers Weekly

"Side­splitting humor and riotous characters. It gets funnier with every page. A howling good time." — Ocala Star Banner

"Firewater Pond is a wonderfully profane situation comedy... In his mission to be funny, Kimball succeeded wildly." — Edgar Alan Beem, Maine Times

"Firewater Pond is so hilarious it will bring tears to your eyes page after page." — Ken Francklins, UPI

"Firewater Pond introduces as memorable a bunch of characters as can be found in any recent literary work." — Lincoln County News

"Sleazeballs who'll have you laughing out loud... Firewater Pond is a whole lot of fun. It lacerates so many of the tacky excesses of the '80s with such fine precision. It is the kind of book that a lot of people who felt tuned in in the '60s and aware in the '80s probably think they could write. But they didn't, and Kimball did." — Providence Sunday Journal

"A page­turning, thigh­slapping comedy about as bizarre a group of misfits as you can imagine." — Worcester Telegram

"A Rollicking Good Time... Like any good humor, Firewater Pond reminds us of people we've known and places we've been and gives us a new perspective on them. With a keen eye for absurd detail and an ear for speech patterns, Kimball makes them good enough to laugh at." — Brunswick Times Record

"As a novel, it is wonderful. As a comic novel, it is uproarious. As a first novel, it is simply superb... Someone once described life as a tragedy to the person who feels, and a comedy to the man who thinks. Michael Kimball does a lot of both. And so do his readers." — Kennebec Journal