Believe it or not, Hollis Gillespie’s Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood was recommended to me by one of my daughter’s pre-school teachers.
Ms. Gillespie is an Atlanta-based writer, and it took me longer than it should have to connect the author of this book with the article that she’s been cranking out for our alt-weeklies for, like, forever. She is also an NPR commentator on All Things Considered. Her web site describes her style like this – “If David Sedaris had a vagina and was a little less of a pussy, he’d be Hollis Gillespie…”. No really, it says it right there at the top. [more after the fold]
The local word is that Ms.Gillespie’s daughter was formerly a student at our neighborhood pre-school – or so they say. So I figured that the “bad neighborhood” of the title was my own. It turns out that I live on the “fringe” – Hollis (can I call her Hollis?) and her friends lived on the “fringe of the fringe”. At any rate, the neighborhood stories were my draw into picking up the book. The urban pioneer tales that I was looking forward to are among my favorite stories in the collection. The title gets its name from an encounter that the author had while scouting a neighborhood. After almost hitting a stumbling guy out for his “asshole walk”, he called Hollis a “Streaky-Haired Honky Bitch”. If you’ve ever lived in a “transitional” neighborhood you totally know that guy. You really can’t buy that kind of street entertainment in your sterile gated developments. I wish there were more of these stories in the collection.
Gillespie also writes about her friends, who include the artist known as Sister Louisa, and just about every other semi-famous Atlantan (current company excluded, natch). She writes about her job(s). Convinced that the writing thing can’t be relied upon to pay the bills, she’s also an international stewardess/translator. She also writes about her family, who provide lots of grist for the mill. And then some.
Judging by some of the things that are happening in the Atlanta of these stories, it appears that this is a collection of some of Gillespie’s earlier articles. Because the stories were initially intended for a weekly audience, it can be a bit repetitive reading them all together (like after the fifth time that you are introduced to her friend Lary, for example). I’d recommend reading this book a few stories at a time, on the bus/train, in the can – that sort of thing.
BGB Exclusive: At the end of the book in the acknowledgemnts, Ms. Gillespie mentions her friend Jill, who left the confines of Atlanta for New York in order to marry Fox’s right wing puppet Sean Hannity. Hollis gives a shout out to the adminsitration mouthpiece – “…Sean: If this book makes me rich, I promise not to bogey the reefer”. Now, I’m no hep cat, but I think this translates to – “I will try to be more forthcoming with the marijuana in the future”. Being a Fox News pundit, you can guess at the level of hypocrisy that this implies for old Sean. That guy is such a tool. Anyway, this has been a BGB Exclusive.