About the book, Mumentous
(Original Photos and Mostly-True Stories about Football, Glue Guns, Moms, and a Supersized High School Tradition That Was Born Deep in the Heart of Texas)
- Genre: Nonfiction / Photo-Driven Memoir / Women’s History / Pop Culture / Texana
- Publisher: Atmosphere Press
- Page Count: 178 pages
- Publication Date: April 25, 2023
- Scroll down for a giveaway!
The closest you’ll ever get to seeing someone actually wear their heart on their sleeve is in Texas, every fall, at the local high school homecoming game.
They’re called homecoming mums. They are as bodacious as football, as irresistible as a juicy rumor, and as deep as a momma’s love. Over a hundred years ago when the custom began, mum was short for chrysanthemum, a typical corsage that boys gave to girls before taking them to the big football game. But through the decades, mum went from a simple abbreviation to a complicated shorthand for an eye-popping tradition that’s as ingrained in the culture as it is confounding to outsiders.
Through her original photography and collection of stories from across and beyond the Lone Star State, Amy J. Schultz takes us deep in the heart of mum country. You’ll meet kids who wear them, parents who buy them, and critics who decry them as just another example of consumerism gone wild. But mostly, you’ll discover that just like every ritual which stands the test of time, someone is keeping the tradition alive. Someone like Mom.
Buy, read, and discuss this book:
About the author, Amy J. Schultz
Amy J. Schultz is an author and award-winning photographer who explores unique aspects of modern culture that hide in plain sight. When she isn’t talking about homecoming mums, Amy is writing, taking photos, working on other creative projects, traveling, snort-laughing, or vacuuming up dog fur.
Connect with Amy:
I’m not a parent and I didn’t attend high school in Texas, so I’m very much not in the target audience for Amy J. Schultz’s new photo-memoir Mumentous, and yet, reading it I found myself laughing, crying, and finding new appreciation for my own mother, who never had to help me make anything like a homecoming mum, but sewed costumes for plays and Halloween, showed up with cupcakes whenever I had a school function that required them, chaperoned our orchestra tours, and drove me (and my friends) to numerous lessons, rehearsals, and other activities during my adolescence, all while working full-time.
But I digress.
In this book, author Schultz is celebrating the Texas tradition of homecoming mums, and while chrysanthemums are commonly used in homecoming mums throughout the country, everything really is bigger in Texas, and they’ve gone way – WAY – beyond simple floral corsages. But it isn’t the actual mums that’s the most fascinating part of this book. Rather it’s the glimpses into young love, awkward first relationships, family traditions, school traditions, and the power of mothers to pull off seemingly impossible tasks with poise, graciousness, and no small amount of glitter that really make this collection of photos and stories sing.
One thing that stood out for me was the idea that these homecoming mums are exchanges between the two young people attending the game – and the dance afterward – together. One partner, usually a girl, receives a homecoming mum corsage (and that is a very loose term for an ornament that can have the same diameter as a pizza) while the other, typically a boy, receives a decorated garter to wear on their sleeve. It’s the exchange part that really moved me. On one level, it’s a competition to see who can be the most creative, but on the other, it’s instilling a sense of etiquette and fairness in young people in a very practical way.
Another theme I appreciated was the author’s description of crafting parties as bonding sessions. Imagine groups of girls getting together to decorate those garters for their escorts, or decorating corsages for each other for said escorts to present. In a world where girls and young women are set up to compete with each other, I liked that this tradition was subtly infusing these Texas teenagers with a sense of sisterhood.
Perhaps the anecdote that reaches “peak Texas” is the chapter titled “Guns for Mums,” which relates an exchange of a different sort (no, no one was wounded in the writing of this book). I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s funny, heartwarming, and so incredibly specific to Texas that I both laughed and shook my head while reading it.
Overall, this is a fantastic collection of memories, anecdotes, and shared traditions, with tons of photos to really help the reader understand what homecoming mums really are, and how homecoming moms so often save the day. It’s the kind of book you can read in spurts, but at only 178 pages, it’s easy enough to zip through the whole thing very quickly.
I hope the author continues to write. Her style is breezy and accessible, and I thoroughly enjoyed this trip down -er – Mumery Lane.
Goes well with: either pizza and Shiner Bock or quiche and mimosas. You pick.
First Prize: signed hardback copy + enamel pin; Second Prize: eBook + enamel pin
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 9/8/23)
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