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August 18 , 2007

Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch

Tales from a Bad Neighborhood


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.

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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.

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