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Sun Valley Elementary School Alum Tupelo Hassman returns to Reno on Saturday, March 3, to present her debut novel, GIRLCHILD (Farrar, Straus and Giroux.) Hassman will give a reading followed by Q&A and book signing.
Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own. But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Disposal of Outgrown Uniforms; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle: that is, Calle de los Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.
Rory’s been told she is “third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social worker’s reports, half-recalled memories, story problems, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world while she searches for the way out of it. Girlchild is a heart-stopping and original debut.
Early Praise for GIRLCHILD:
is a crazy risk, a foolish venture, a journey hardly worth attempting
by poor daughters raised by poor daughters who have no maps or
guidebooks (and no teeth, either), who receive no justice that doesn’t
hurt about the same as the injustice it means to remedy. As a girl,
Rory Dawn Hendrix faces life’s “ratty truths” and is a long time quiet
before she roars from her mother’s trailer in Reno, Nevada. Her voice
is funny and pained, confused and outrageous. This story is your worst
white nightmare. Tupelo Hassman's GIRLCHILD is a triumph and a
philosophical treatise on survival." --Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Critics Circle and National Book Award Finalist American Salvage
"GIRLCHILD is a devastating and hilarious portrait of poor white
America. Hassman’s ruthless dissection of the laws, traditions and
values of a trailer park will leave you horrified and laughing
uproariously. Hassman’s novel is at once a rag tag anthem to the
generations of single mothers raising their children on their own, a
brilliant critique of the inadequacies of social services and a
colorful depiction of the extraordinary hurdles children who break the
cycle of poverty have to face. But mostly it is a description of the
seismic transformations that happen within each of us as we fly the
coop. Hassman’s wildly inventive prose explodes off the page." -Heather O’Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals
About the Author:
Tupelo Hassman describes herself as a girl without a hometown but when asked where she grew up she has two answers: Sun Valley, Nevada, and Los Angeles, California. She lived in Sun Valley from the age of 4 until she was 12, attending Sun Valley Elementary School. She lived in L.A. in her twenties (and describes herself as vagabond wastrel during the years in-between). After a bit of sleuthing, we discovered a headline from a 1982 copy of the Reno Gazette Journal that features Tupelo, age 9, accepting a trophy for reading over 70 books in one month and raising over $5,000 toward finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. "I loved reading," said Hassman, reflecting on the competition, "Books were my ticket out of a lonely and dangerous environment."
Tupelo Hassman's work has been published in Paper Street Press, The Portland Review Literary Journal, Tantalum, We Still Like, and ZYZZYVA and by 100WordStory.org and FiveChapters.com. She is a contributing author to Invisible City Audio Tours and is curating its fourth tour, The Landmark Revelation Society. Her first novel, GIRLCHILD, was published in February 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and she will be filming GIRLCHILD's book tour for a short documentary Hardbound: A Novel's Life on the Road. Visit her website at www.tupelohassman.com