TRAILER TRASHED: My Dubious Efforts Toward Upward Mobility

by Jacquelyn Lewis

Sentimental moments are tempered with just enough dry wit in this collection of essays exploring Hollis Gillespie’s unpredictable childhood and the very similar lifestyle she took on as an adult.

Hollis Gillespie’s Trailer Trashed is a collection of essays exploring her unstable, unpredictable childhood and the very similar lifestyle she took on as an adult, constantly changing occupations, lovers, and addresses. As the child of sporadically employed parents, Gillespie spends her formative years constantly moving from state to state and between wealth and poverty, learning to embrace the lack of consistency. The book’s title refers to the trailers her father sold as a salesman, which she and her family would use to vacation in away from their chaotic lives, dropping into RV parks in the hopes of catching a few moments of peace and quiet. As an adult, Gillespie, living in a house in California but retaining a fondness for the tin trailers of yore, buys several and turns her back and front yards into a trailer park. After getting accidentally pregnant from a one-night stand, Gillespie learns to integrate single-motherhood into her unstable life, struggling to find a financially sound yet creatively fulfilling existence for herself and her daughter, finally finding success as a columnist and screenwriter. Lacking both familial support as well as a spouse, Gillespie instead relies upon her trio of wisecracking, prank-loving male friends, who provide endlessly hilarious material for her essays with their adventures in kidnapping, highway debris hunting, and drunken schemes. Gillespie’s writing is consistently laugh-inducing, and her off-kilter, disorganized style often throws standards and rules out the window, making her work a pleasing change from most essay collections. Her dry wit is just enough to make her moments of extreme sentimentality both believable and touching.

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