Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 1/28/13

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
Tupelo Hassman's honeyed language is haunting me this week. I first fell in love with  the cover of Girlchild. The library card, the green-gold minimizes the trailer-desert. The cover exudes the glow of a gold wash, the  patina of the gloaming time, the rubbed-richness of a polaroid emulsion transfer: art.   Poverty, neglect, hardship become poetry in the novel, Girlchild. Listen to the rhythm in this excerpt from "stucco" :
"Single-wide, double-wide, a house with a hitch. Single mom, gravel drive. Propane by the gallon, generic cigs by the carton, and solitaire round the clock. Cousins and animals multiply like cars in the front yard. Nothing around here gets fixed...Fifty-two pick up. Suicide kings and one-eyed jacks face off on orange shag. Calle girls cry uncle through clenched teeth and past his shoulder the sirens flash redneck blues across the white-stucco, nicotine-yellow ceiling" (75).
This is writing we could write toward. Color saturated. Girlchild is set on the Calle where most residents cover broken smiles and live in trailer homes, but the homes aren't nearly as important as the people, as the women. Plumbing on the Calle  is as unreliable as the men. Children aren't neglected, but the kind of attention some give them is criminal.

The Miseducation of Cameron Postby Emily Danforth
I was struck by Hassman's juxtaposition of desperation and beauty as she catalogues moments in Rory Dawn Hendrix's life.  Rory's a Girl Scout at heart. A troop of one, she's nearly memorized an old copy of the handbook a librarian gave her. More than once I was reminded that books save lives. The Girl Scout Handbook sees Rory through her darkest moments--moments that are literally blacked out as if censors blotted out Rory's memories with Sharpie marker. Simply eloquent, lyrical and image-rich, Girlchild lingers and haunts.

This week I'm reading Emily Danforth's The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Entirely different in terms of style, character and premise. Cameron's parents are killed in a car accident on the very day she kisses her best friend Irene. She sees their deaths as her fault. She retreats into rented VHS films, terms it research and approaches those captured lives to learn how to think and how to feel. A swimmer, Cameron must negotiate the waters of a changing family and her own sexual identity in this coming-of-age novel. It is going to be a great addition to my classroom library.

Most of my reading this week had to do with full-thickness tears of the rotator cuff. I've read about shoulder anatomy, radiology reports, research abstracts on repair techniques and even how to deal with daily living after shoulder surgery.

This medical reading reminds me of how I am often purpose-driven as a reader. My students are too. Sometimes their schedule determines their reading for the week.Tests, projects, assignments threaten a coupe. I just have to remind them that even with several Advance Placement classes or surgery looming, there's still at least two hours in the week to read for fun.

Happy reading!


  1. Girlchild sounds very ... well, from the tidbit you posted and wrote about it, I think I have to add it to my list. But maybe make sure I have a cheerup read for after it.

  2. Wait...who's having shoulder surgery?