Drawing on her peripatetic childhood as the daughter of a travelling salesman, and her adult residence in one of Atlanta's seedier crack neighbourhoods, columnist and NPR commentator Hollis Gillespie has assembled a comic, poignant memoir about her life, starring her unusual family and her crazy friends.
NPR commentator Hollis Gillespie's outrageously funny–and equally heartbreaking–collection of autobiographical tales chronicles her journey through self–reckoning and the worst neighbourhoods in Atlanta in search of a home she can call her own. The daughter of a missile scientist and an alcoholic travelling trailer salesman, Gillespie was nine before she realized not everybody's mother made bombs, and thirty before she realized it was possible to live in one place longer than a six–month lease allows. Supporting her are the social outcasts she calls her best friends: Daniel, a talented and eccentric artist; Grant, who makes his living peddling folk art by a denounced nun who paints plywood signs with twisted evangelical sayings; and Lary, who often, out of compassion, offers to shoot her like a lame horse.
Hollis's friends help her battle the mess of obstacles that stand in her way–including her warped childhood, in which her parents moved her and her siblings around the country like carnival barkers, chasing missile–building contracts and other whimsies, such as her father's dream to patent and sell door–to–door the world's most wondrous key–chain. A past like this will make you doubt you'll ever have a future, much less roots. Miraculously, though, Gillespie manages to plant exactly that: roots, as wrested and dubious as they are.
As Gillespie says, "Life is too damn short to remain trapped in your own Alcatraz." Follow her on this wickedly funny journey as she manages to escape again and again.
In this zesty memoir, NPR commentator and flight attendant Gillespie riffs on everything from her work as a "bad German translator" to her belief that a lesbian ghost is haunting her house. Gillespie, a hard-living bleached blonde who yearns to own a house, is as charming as a friendly drunk who says one funny, impossible sentence after another. She chronicles her life in diminutive essays, with an appreciation for absurd, seemingly minor moments. The book's title comes from the curses yelled by a man who was taking an "asshole stroll" across the road, ambling along with the speed of a diseased bovine, Gillespie notes, when she almost hit him because she wasn't paying attention. She suspects the neighborhood denizens will be unhappy that someone like her is looking for a house in the area: "[The crack dealers] shake their heads dejectedly, knowing it's a bad day for the neighborhood when bleachy-haired honky bitches can't brake to accommodate a good asshole stroll." Among these bright moments of detail, Gillespie manages to tell the story of her family, and like any family worth examining, it has an unusually large number of oddballs. Her mother, who wanted to become a cosmetologist but was terrible at it, ended up as a weapons designer after falling into a job at IBM. Her usually jobless father excelled at charming people into buying him drinks and wearing designer shoes. Sometimes tender, but mostly just wry and a bit wild, Gillespie's writing is like the best radio commentary, leaving fans hungry for more. Photos. (On sale Mar. 2) Forecast: Author appearances throughout the South will lure in readers, and Gillespie's NPR fans are a sure bet, too. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.