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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Just Another Square Dance Caller by Larada Horner-Miller is the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, a man who did so much more than provide dance step instructions in fluid succession. At nearly 800 pages, Horner-Miller does an intensely deep dive into the person, the profession, and a life lived that was both meaningful and impactful to all who knew him. She includes stories, photographs, how his career started and how it progressed, and the personal life and relationships that evolved alongside—for better or for worse. There are paper clippings and letters, dance moments, and events that stood out, such as a trip to Japan where he met Emperor Hirohito's square dance-loving younger brother, Prince Mikasa. The stories and pieces of the memoir go on in beautiful detail throughout, painting a vivid portrait of a man who stayed true in all he did.
I picked up Just Another Square Dance Caller knowing almost nothing of the craft of calling, and little more than a basic knowledge of square dance in general, and set it down as an avid fan of both the artform and Flippo himself after reading. Larada Horner-Miller has compiled a magnificent tribute to Flippo, who sadly passed in his nineties after a career spanning more than six decades in 2018. Most helpful to me were the clear descriptions of the mechanics behind calling in order to educate the reader and also highlight what a rare gem Flippo was. Horner-Miller makes it all even more relatable by letting us know that there was much even she wasn't entirely sure of. There is a time she recalls asking him what “phrase calling” is and he cheekily answers, “That means calling on phrase.” It was a dual “ah-ha!” moment when it was explained that was made more entertaining with Flippo's humor. This is a fabulous tribute to an extraordinary man to be enjoyed by those who were lucky enough to know him or know of him, and those of us lucky enough to learn about him now.