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    Original Essays | March 24, 2015

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Hick Cover




Somewhere between Palmyra and Alliance, a beat-up green and white pick-up truck, with a gun rack in the back, pulls up behind me while I'm singing to myself. I look inside and there, in the driver's seat, sits a skinny bug-eyed cowboy who looks like a turtle. He looks like he must have spent the last ten days straight chasing squealers in the rodeo and hasn't changed since. He's got on one of them old fashioned western shirts with a pattern of little rose flowers faded dingy into grey, mother-of-pearl snaps gleaming creamy in a line from his chest down to his jeans, untucked. He's got a look about him that you wouldn't be surprised if he just busted out of the nervous hospital.

He rolls down the window and shouts over the wind,
"Where you headed?"

"Las Vegas."

He looks me up and down.

"Aren't you a little bit young and, maybe say, innocent to be traveling to Las Vegas all by your little self?"

He's got this tone in his voice like he's got three friends snickering, hunkering down in the cab and this is all a little joke between them.

"No." I straighten up a bit. "What about you, mister? Where you headed?"

"Well, I don't see how that's any of your business...and my name's not Mister, it's Eddie. Eddie Kreezer."

I smile and make a bashful act, bending over myself, trying to let him sneak a peek of my newfound bubbles, hoping for a free ride. I figure I can turn his none-of-your-business into Las Vegas with a little bit of sugar. My age makes him nervous and shamey, cause his eyes keep heading southwards and then back up, guilty. I can tell I can make his eyes swirl and that's just about all I want to do.

"You some kinda runaway?"

"No. My dad ran away and left me."
This is my new version of my life story.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. I guess he thought I could fend for myself, but I sure could use a ride, Mister, Eddie, and I'm just worried sick that I won't find a place to stay before dark and I guess I'm just plum scared and all cause-"

"What's your dad look like? Maybe I seen him." He takes off his hat and squints at the brim like he's inspecting it.


There is a silence as he looks me up and down. Then he just starts laughing, real hard and loud, like his make-believe friends just jumped out the back and the dashboard just turned into a bar.

"Oh my God, what in the world is in store for me here." He says, shaking his head and smiling to himself, "Well, well, well..."

I don't really get his little private joke, but I smile anyways, not wanting to seem dumb or too young or rude even. I resolve to take the reins.

"You gonna give me a ride or are you just gonna sit there and laugh at yourself all day?"
He stops laughing.

"Oh, I get it, you're some kinda ten-year-old smart-ass or something."

"Try thirteen." I say, real smug.

"Well. You're just about old enough to have kids then, aren't ya?"

He sneers gritty through the corner of his mouth, like uncle Nipper used to do when the ashtray says he's been up all night and the bottle of Jack confirms it with two sips left. For once in my life I am struck dumb for words and I don't like it. I shift my attention to the ground and shuffle my feet through the gravel, praying he'll give me a lift, at least to Kearney. Later on I'll think of something good to say, some perfect comeback topped with whipped cream and a smile.

"Well, don't just stand there, git in if you wanna."

He unhitches the lock and stares at me through the window, like he's daring me. I have never turned down a dare in my life and I'm not about to start now, just cause I can't think of nothing clever to say to turn me into the starlet of his private movie. I put my head back on my shoulders, real high, open the door and hop in. There is a moment of silence while we both contemplate our new situation.

"You got any money?" He doesn't look at me when he says it. He looks straight ahead, calculating into the sun.

"No, but I'm good at stealing."

"Well, at least you're good for something."

Then he peels off onto the road so fast the back of the truck swishes out over the gravel in a C and something in my heart lurches forward, like a roller coaster at the very top, when you can't see what's coming but you're bracing for a steep drop.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Adam Perryman, September 30, 2007 (view all comments by Adam Perryman)
For a premiere novel, Andrea Portes offers a sullied and retrospective look of a thirteen year-old girl from Nebraska that I image would echo the longings held by many other 13 year-old Nebraska girls. Not being one myself, the writing is mostly solid enough to convince me that Vegas would seem a better living than the Midwest.

In particular focus was Chapter Seven, which makes for a quality, stand-alone short story. Few times has this reader enjoyed reading of a teacher-character’s good intentions that run into the honesty of living among “simple folk” as described here. A wonderful passage.

(Be)Sides for the use of some five-dollar words (dissecting, italic) that are unconscionably mingled among the penny-ante profanity and auction-worthy philosophy of Luli McMullen's pubescent narrative, Hick readers will find a reflection of their own rural American upbringing, should they have had one or not.
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(10 of 20 readers found this comment helpful)
lissome, February 14, 2007 (view all comments by lissome)
Okay, here goes...
James Joyce meets Toni Morrison meets Charles Bukowski meets Dorothy Allison meets Hubert Selby Jr. meets Will Self meets Andrea Portes.
They all rumble in a dark alley and something wonderful stalks out.
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(23 of 42 readers found this comment helpful)
a_guy_90049, February 13, 2007 (view all comments by a_guy_90049)
I read a pre-publication version of this book and like another reviewer said about it, I couldn't put it down. The prose flows very quicklky from page to imagination and makes it a fast read. But more importantly, the vivid descriptions of these grifters, hookers and badlands scary people seen through the eyes of 13 year old Luli are very engaging. The story's structure is tight and simple and keeps the reader on track while telling a tale that has meaning for all of us. This is a recommended read for men or women in spite of it being a story about a young girl. Dare I say that there are some sexual moments in the novel that made this very mature, polite, socially responsible adult male to be, err, uncomfortably turned on? -It's true.
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(20 of 38 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

Portes, Andrea
Unbridled Books
Automobile travel
Family problems
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Coming of Age
Young Adult » General

Hick New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 264 pages Unbridled Books - English 9781932961324 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Portes's chilling debut tracks a 13-year-old Nebraska girl's hard-going life on the road. Young Luli knows losers — her 'aging Brigitte Bardot' mother, Tammy, and her father, Nick, go at each other every night at the Alibi, the watering hole in hometown Palmyra, Neb. Tammy runs away one morning, and Nick soon follows, leaving Luli alone at home with the Smith and Wesson .45 her Uncle Nipper gave her. Pistol in tow, she hitches rides heading west to Vegas. A crooked man (literally; he 'looks like an italic,' says smart-alecky Luli) named Eddie picks her up briefly before throwing her out of the car. Next comes cocaine-snorting grifter Glenda, who enlists Luli as an accessory to a robbery that goes awry. Glenda takes Luli under her wing. The two cross paths again with Eddie, who rapes Luli and ties her up in a secluded motel. Glenda comes to her rescue, but the confrontation with Eddie ends badly. Luli's flippant narration makes for a love-it or hate-it read." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A bracing drama, a study in tenacity against the gnarled teeth of domestic storms."
"Review" by , "Luli's determinedly breezy narrative voice can be grating, but it also generates sympathy."
"Synopsis" by ,
This fall, the film festival circuit will be introduced to the indomitable Luli McMullen in Hick, the new film made from the acclaimed novel by Andrea Portes, who also adapted the screenplay. The film—directed by Derick Martini—stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Blake Lively and Eddie Redmayne and features Rory Culkin, Anson Mount, Juliette Lewis and Alec Baldwin in supporting roles.

Hick is the story of Luli (Moretz), a bright kid from a hick town whos had enough and strikes out on her own with some “borrowed” cash, a .45 and her wits. On the road, Luli is taken under the wing of a glamorous young grifter named Glenda (Lively), who has experienced worlds barely imaginable to Luli. As the two make their way across the American landscape, they encounter a captivating and dangerous young man named Eddie Kreezer (Redmayne), a disturbing criminal subculture, and some hard truths about what it means to be a young woman on the run, grasping at a future.

Hick the movie is produced by Lighthouse Entertainment and Taylor Lane Productions, with Stone River Productions serving as executive producer.

Though its first-person narrating voice is fast-paced, powerful and unquestionably authentic, Hick is a debut novel.

Beyond this voice, what makes the book so extraordinary is that, although all of the worst things imaginable do befall this 13-year-old girl, she is never defeated by them. Luli always fights back; she always resurfaces.

Set as a coming-of-age novel, Hick tracks the real perils that modern teenagers so often face. And it does so with bright wit, energy, and an indomitable spirit.

This is a book that will grab the reader from the first page and not let go.

And it is written by a woman who is becoming a cultural force in the hippest parts of Los Angeles.

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