It’s a hard road for the first-time novelist.
First of all, you're confronted by a general lack of interest in fiction, unless you’re James Patterson or Stephen King.
Then there’s another Everest in your way: How do you get attention for your writing, unless you’re a serial killer, disgraced politician or a pregnant reality-show sleaze?
Of course, there’s also talent.
That’s the route Tupelo Hassman is using.
You’ll be hearing a lot about her first novel, Girlchild (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24). Mostly, it’ll have to do with the strong voice of the narrator, a young trailer dweller named Rory Dawn Hendrix. She’s third generation poor, growing up around a truck-stop bar and among legions of mouthbreathers.
But, of course, she has a voice, and a view of the world shaped by the Girl Scouts Handbook. If I tell you she’s indomitable, then you might think this is some Disneyesque rags-to-riches story. It is not. But it is a story told in a unique voice, a voice of a young girl who tries to work through the agonies and the ecstasies of modern life among the have-nots. Rory is a child left behind.
But somehow she carries on and, at the end of the story, with a life change dropped in her lap, she manages to persevere.
It’s a novel, but it’s also good when it’s read in short bites, like a collection of stories. The point is: This is a book that deserves your attention.
SOME SILLY STUFF: Here are a few books that don’t advance the literary ball, but are just good fun.
The Boy in the Song by Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson (Chicago Review Press, $14.95) is a sequel to their book of a while back, The Girl in the Song. Both books offer short (2-3 pages) histories of rock songs and what inspired them.
So we get the story behind Pink Floyd’s “Shine On, You Crazy Diamond” (about leader Syd Barrett), “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton, about his son’s death, and Loudon Wainwright’s “Rufus is a Tit Man,” about his infant son (and future musician) when he was nursing at his mother’s breast. Mom, of course, is also a musician — singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle.
Maybe women are better muses. The first book was better and certainly better edited. (A few goofs here and there mar the text.)
Still, this is good fun for the rock’n’roll fan in your life.
Sign Language (Aurum Books, $16.95) is a little small to be a coffeetable book, but maybe that’s a good thing. It fits in your suit pocket, so carry it around and show it to your friends.
It’s a collection of photos from readers of The Telegraph in Great Britain — some silly, some nasty, some stuff. Broken down into categories, there’s something here to get you laughing.
And for pure silliness, check out Sheridan Simove’s What Every Man Thinks About Apart From Sex (Summersdale, $13.75). Of course, the book is blank.
Inkwood tells us there is ample parking in two garages. Sophie's will be serving pastries, soups, sandwiches, and salads. Seating starts at 6 and the event starts at 7.
White is the author of several fine novels featuring his marine-biologist hero, Doc Ford.
William McKeen chairs the journalism department at Boston University and is the author of several books, including Mile Marker Zero, about Key West in the 1970s, and Outlaw Journalist, a biography of Hunter S. Thompson.