by Abby White
Susan Gregg Gilmore
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24
Where: Parnassus Books
Nashville native Susan Gregg Gilmore came out of the gate strong in 2008 with her debut book, the coming-of-age novel Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. Her second novel, The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, earned rave reviews from Alan Cheuse of NPR’s All Things Considered, who praised her ability to “take the news from the underground life of the modern American South and tell it straight to our face.”
Gregg Gilmore returns to her hometown for the release of her latest work, The Funeral Dress, where she’ll read from and discuss the book — complete with live music and sparkling wine. Read an excerpt from her debut novel Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen after the jump.
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
My daddy always said that if the good Lord can take the time to care for something as small as a baby sparrow nesting in a tree, then surely he could take the time to listen to a little girl in Ringgold, Georgia. So every night before I went to bed I got down on my knees and begged the Lord to find me a way out of this town. And every morning, I woke up in the same old place.
It was a place that I, Catherine Grace Cline, never wanted to call home, even though I was born and raised here. It was a place where everybody knew everything about you down to the color of underwear your mama bought you at the Dollar General Store. It was a place that just never felt right to me, like a sweater that fits too tight under your arms. It was a place where girls like me traded their dreams for a boy with a couple of acres of land and a wood-framed house with a new electric stove. It was a place I always planned on leaving.
When I was no more than nine years old, a tornado tore right close to my house. I remember yelling at my little sister to run and hide in the basement. “Martha Ann,” I warned her, “if that twister hits this town, nobody’s even going to notice it’s gone.”
She started crying for fear she was going to be swept up in the clouds and carried away; and nobody, not even our daddy, would be able to find her. Turned out the only thing of any importance swept up in the sky that day was Mr. Naylor’s old hound dog. People said that Buster Black flew some fifteen miles, those long floppy ears of his flapping like wings, before landing right in the middle of a cornfield over in the next county.