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Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter

Ugly Girls

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Lindsay Hunter’s debut novel isn’t just about ugly girls. It’s about ugly people, ugly places, ugly lives—“ugly” being used on the deeper, moral level. Hunter presents a host of unlikeable characters living in a box-store world, Denny’s and Circle K and Payless and McDonald’s, trailer parks and cul-de-sacs, where alcoholic mothers suck on brown bottles and oversexed adolescents find that the only fun to be had lies in the back seats of cars and doing doughnuts in a Walmart parking lot. Hunter’s America may be shocking, a place without hope, upward mobility not even a glimmer in her characters’ eyes. But it’s vivid, visceral, and engrossing.

Hunter’s ugly girls are two best friends, Baby Girl and Perry, who are, in many ways, the archetypal teenage duo. Perry is the pretty one, who resembles “some kind of garden fairy, only tall. Bright green eyes, black eyelashes, blond hair. Tanned legs. Smallish boobs.” All the boys and men desire her, and some have had her. Baby Girl is the wannabe thug, the one who radiates I-don’t-give-a-fuck. Since her brother Charles got into an accident, leaving him in a helpless, mentally deficient state, she has made it her mission to be as unattractive as possible: she is the girl with the shaved head, her brother’s saggy jeans, a “sports bra to tamp those fuckers down. Work boots she’d stolen from Payless,” plump lips outlined in liner and shined with gloss, her lips her favorite feature. She considers herself a “tough bitch.” She is the virgin.

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HITTING SHELVES #13: Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter

Ugly Girls

Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter comes out today!

Lindsay Hunter, author of Daddy’s and Don’t Kiss Me, is a natural successor to brilliant writers like Mary Gaitskill and A.M. Homes who chronicle the damage, both physical and psychological, that we do to women, and that women do to themselves. If you haven’t read “Three Things You Should Know about Peggy Paula,” you are MISSING OUT and you need to read it right now.

Ugly Girls is Hunter’s first novel. Told in little bursts of flash fiction, it introduces Perry and Baby Girl, two thick-as-thieves girlfriends who discover they’re being stalked by a dangerous man. Like all of Hunter’s writing, it’s urgent and raw and garishly compelling.

We asked the author one question.

How are you celebrating the publication of Ugly Girls?

Lindsay Hunter: I’ve thought about this a lot, actually. I’ve scoured Etsy and anthropologie and Pinterest, trying to find the perfect thing to buy myself to mark what feels like a momentous, emotional moment in my life. Something I want to remember and celebrate. But I always end on eh, I have so many necklaces that I never wear! And if I buy a special sweater or something, my dogs will just eventually claw it to pieces. I’ve considered a commemorative tattoo, but that feels like too much work. What would I get? Who would do it? Ugh, I have to drive somewhere to get it done? So, that’s out. Then I considered buying myself a piece of art. I love Andrea Heimer’s work and feel that it speaks to me on a deep, deep level, and I have come very close to buying one of her pieces. She is affordable in the broad sense of buying art, but not so affordable when you feel guilty about spending money on a nice sweater your dogs will maul. So, I always end up closing my browser window before clicking “Complete Purchase.” What I think will happen is that the day of my novel’s release will kind of come and go, without me doing anything to mark the occasion, and I’ll think back and go, Gawd, I couldn’t even buy myself a nice bottle of wine?!

Lindsay Hunter (photo by Zach Dodson)

Lindsay Hunter (photo by Zach Dodson)

But maybe what is actually happening is that I’m hoping that there are more books in my future. More things I’ve created being deemed publishable. Maybe it feels like, if I mark this occasion too fervently, that’ll be the peak. Like the prom queen never feeling as happy as she did the night she was crowned. And maybe the thrill is in the possibility and not the purchase. The endless what-iffing that can remain endless as long as I don’t allow an end. And, I was recently able to upgrade to an iPhone 6, and there’s a brand new Olive Garden down the road from my house, so maybe the universe is celebrating for me, around me.

– Brian Hurley

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