Saturday 30 June 2012


Katie Singer & me
Yesterday dawned hot and humid. Hot is one thing, hot and humid is entirely different. An 8am walk had me drenched with sweat. It's no wonder everyone drives here; you can't walk around in it for long. A man on the street said to me, in a gorgeous Southern drawl: 'It's hot out here. What's Hell gonna be like?'

Speaking of driving everywhere, there is drive-in everything: banks, libraries, off-licences, restaurants. The place is so hot, vast and spread out that people sit in their enormous Dodge Ram pick-ups and drive, drive, drive.

I had my reading yesterday morning, with Katie Singer from New Jersey. We both read about troubled mothers, coincidentally. Katie's story concerned Karen, a young mother whose husband is emotionally absent and whose daughter is leaving her for kindergarten. It's a story about identity loss and burgeoning alcoholism, and it all started for Karen when her mother hacked off her ponytail on her first day of school. Such a powerful image.

I read my story about Assia Wevill and the terrible decision she took to end her own and her daughter's lives.

In the afternoon, I hightailed it to Little Rock across the river on the gorgeous yellow trolley car. Hubby's bag still being AWOL, he needed clothes. But there is no town centre over there, we discovered. Just restaurants and two rather odd shops: Mr Cool, which has strange clothes from China (pink mock croc loafers anyone?); and a military clothing shop, which sold camouflage Babygros among its stock. Anyway, we managed to get a shirt and a T-shirt, so all was not lost.

In the evening we were driven to Conway, half an hour away, to the Uni of Central Arkansas, for a southern style buffet. Conway is a dry county so there was fresh lemonade and iced tea rather than booze. There were four readings, which can feel a tad excessive after another long day. The readers were Caribbean writer Velma Pollard, American/Portugese Katherine Vaz, Bengali writer Bharati Mukherjee and American Moira Crone. Each read very well and I particularly enjoyed Bharati's story of ex-pat Indians in California and their snobbishness and competitive antics.

Writers Sylvia Petter & Tania Hershman at the Uni of Central Arkansas, Conway
So another day done. Today is the last day of the conference and us Irish have our panel this morning on the Irish Short Story. Should be interesting! After that we are hoping to go to Walmart - I've never been and am madly interested in seeing it. I saw my first trailer park yesterday in Conway - it was very neat and tidy. Curious.


Miss_Úna said...

Ooh I would love to hear that Southern drawl in real life. Another great post, I'm loving them. Those shops certainly sound unique, so does F look like Mr.Cool now?!
Enjoy Walmart :)

Group 8 said...

He looks super cool :) The shirt he bought was the most wearable thing in the shop.

The accent is so great, y'all.

I hope we make it to Walmart - the Irish/Aussie/UK gang are going. It's a tour (self-organised).

Insinbad said...

Great stuff babe. Let's hope for my bag soon.