Tupelo Hassman reads from ‘Girlchild’

Photo by Bradford Earle

Photo by Bradford Earle

The Churchill Arts Council will present a prose reading by novelist Tupelo Hassman on May 4 at the Oats Park Art Center.

There will be a reception for the author from 5-6 p.m. and the reading will begin at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information you can call CAC at 775-423-1440.

Tupelo Hassman grew up outside Reno and her stunning debut novel “Girlchild” in a trailer park on the outskirts of Reno. It is the story of Rory Dawn Hendrix, the least likely of Girl Scouts, who hasn’t got a troop or a badge to call her own.

But she still borrows the Girl Scout Handbook from the elementary school library to look for advice on how to survive and escape the Calle trailer park where she lives with her mother, a sweet faced, hard luck bartender at the local truck stop. Rory, who has the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good, struggles with her mother’s habit of always seeming to trust the wrong men as she tries to find, without a map, a way out of her situation.

The story is told by Hassman’s clever collaging together of words from the handbook, diary excerpts, social workers’ reports, family lore, arrest records and Rory’s grandmother’s letters. The result is a vital evocation of Rory’s world and her search for a way out of it.

The novel was a “New York Times Book Review” Editor’s Choice Book and was also included in NPR’s “10 books to Help You Recover From a Tense 2012.” Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the reading and I believe the book is also available at the Churchill County Library.

Since May in National Poetry Month, here a couple of recommended titles. “The Lease” (Coach House Press) by Mathew Henderson is a first collection by the Canadian poet. The poems deal with the hardscrabble realities of the working life in Albert’s oilfields, the attempts to balance humanity with the often inhuman and unreal workplace, where long gone furniture has left imprints in the carpet and tire ruts are six inches deep slick with oil.

Michael McGriff’s “Home Burial” (Copper Canyon) also deals with the harsh moonlight of blue collar landscapes. Set in the decaying old growth forest communities of Oregon, McGriff’s lyrical poems evoke wood smoke hanging in the air, the smell of fence posts and barn rot, the woman with waist long hair whose pill bottle spilled rom her purse into a parking lot slick with rain and decaying wood reborn as floors for the wealthy. All of them, along with the shovel, the rain filled ashtray and the high school football game filled with unmistakable beauty.

Tickets are now on sale for the Grammy winning singer, songwriter and guitarist, Dave Alvin on May 12. A lot of interest in this one so, be sure to get your tickets early at Jeff’s, Postage Plus, ITT @ NAS Fallon or by calling 775-423-1440. More info on Alvin and some additional suggested books in the coming weeks.

Kirk Robertson covers the Churchill Arts Council scene.


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