This review is in conjunction with a Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alana will be awarding a screen printed camisole (What Happens in the Bedroom Stays in the Bedroom) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour as well as a screen printed Brass Nuts t-shirt to another commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
How You Leave Texas is a volume of three short stories and a novella about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail. They seek escape from boredom and sorrow and find it. The stories are hilarious, tragic, revelatory.
"Dam Broke" – after high school graduation, two quirky best friends reveal big secrets.
In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.
"Camille’s Net Worth" – on her 40th birthday, Camille’s life falls apart in uncontrolled demolition. Life improves when she gets a job creating art paper and returns to painting. But the plot twists and she ends up in jail, laughing.
“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”
"Krystal’s Wedding" – Heading for New York, Krystal leaves behind her shoddy family in Midland, Texas. Ill-prepared for the culture shock and expense, she takes a few slippery steps before she finds true independence.
Krystal’s family wasn’t an American success story. Mom felt like life had cheated her since Daddy never made any real money and spent most nights getting drunk at the Welcome Inn. Erin never finished beauty school and worked at a donut shop. Bethany worked as a bar-back at the Rusty Nail and was turning out like Daddy. Alcoholic, back-slapping, charming. Eddie Garthwaite, owner of Garthwaite Used Cars located on Interstate 20 between Midland and Odessa. Eddie Garthwaite who currently had his driver’s license suspended because of a DUI.
Frying Your Burger (based on a true story) – Nicky and her friends spend mornings slinging repartee in a coffee shop. While paying a traffic fine, she meets a director and soon finds herself a pawn for two directors trying to ruin each others careers.
I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the “hospital orderly fashion catalogue.” It was all I had clean that day.
Step into this short volume to meet some of the quirkiest characters you ever want to meet. One of the stories, "Krystal's Wedding," broke my heart--and made me so thankful for my own family. Loved the character in "Camille's Net Worth"--maybe because we are closer in age and I could really identify with her and what she went through. In reading "Dam Broke" I was able to relive some of my own emotions of long-term friendship. And, in the novella Frying Your Burger you will meet a cast of characters that wouldn't be out of place in a TV sit-com. Think of a combination of Friends and Cheers set in Hollywood.
I would love to see all these characters again in longer works. The short stories and the novella both felt like they might be a part of something bigger--and I would really like to be able to revisit them and hear more of their stories.
They are all quick reads.. perfect for a lunch break or an afternoon by the pool. 4 Stars.
About the Author:
Her experiences are inspiration for her work as an acclaimed writer and filmmaker.
• She was one of 60 US teachers profiled on the PBS series, "A Writer's Exchange," for her talent as a teacher at the University of Texas Informal Classes - many of her students published and won writing awards • Her feature film, "Tom's Wife," based on her novel of the same name, won awards all over the world • Her documentary "Anna Freud: Under Analysis," part of documentary trilogy on women in science, was translated into German for broadcast in Austria, Germany & Switzerland