@

Tupelo Hassman is the guest. Her debut novel, Girlchild, has just been published in paperback by Picador.


 
Get the free official app. Subscribe for free at iTunes.

Girlchild is narrated by Rory Dawn Hendrix, “feebleminded daughter of a feebleminded daughter.” She lives in the Calle de la Flores trailer park, in the “rum-and-semen-stained outskirts of Reno.” Rory’s father is long gone, and her mother’s good intentions are drowned in alcohol. Despite this bleak setting, Hassman’s daring debut novel is a joy to read. The rich and dense language, full of surprise, word play, and revelation, makes the book a sensual pleasure, every chapter a prose poem.

teeth

Mama always hid her mouth when she laughed. Even when she spoke too gleefully, mouth stretched too wide by those happy muscles, teeth too visible. I can still recognize someone from my neighborhood by their teeth. Or lack of them. And whenever I do, I call these people family. I know immediately that I can trust them with my dog but not with the car keys and not to remember what time, exactly, they’re coming back for their kids. I know if we get into a fight and Johnny shows up we’ll agree that there has been “No problem, Officer, we’ll keep it down.”

After being introduced to Theo, a seven-foot tall wooden, dancing, and rampant pig that guards the hallway, I sat down with Tupelo Hassman in the living room of her Oakland apartment, but as I turned on the tape recorder, she jumped up.

Oh shit! Are we really going to do this?