Everyone who calls him/herself a reader has a favorite coming of age novel. Great Expectations, Anne of Green Gables, Summer of ’42, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Catcher in the Rye. The list is long and getting longer. Coming of age novels, or in high lit terminology, bildungsroman, bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood, pulling back the skin to reveal the pain and pleasure of growing up. What makes a good coming of age story? Why do they continue to enthrall readers through generations? Do male or female authors write better bildungsroman? These and other questions about coming of age novels lead the discussion this week in #litchat.
Joining us as guest host on Friday, August 5, to discuss his debut novel is Jason Skipper, author of Hustle. Hot off literary independent Press 53, Hustle succeeds at what many authors attempt but ultimately fail to achieve: prose that is both gritty and gleaming, characters raw and still real, and a story that hustles your heart and gives it back to you. We’ve seen, and probably known, characters like these all our lives, but Skipper makes them new again in Hustle. The crusty conman turned doting grandfather; the skirt-chasing father and the long-suffering wife; the mercurial, controlling stepfather; the young man still golden with nature’s first green. They’re all hustling for young Chris’s affection, while Chris suffers their love and hustles for his own place in time.
Jason Skipper grew up in Texas and has worked as a bartender, snowboard instructor, and freelance journalist. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Hotel Amerika and Mid-American Review. He has received awards and recognition from Zoetrope: All Story, Glimmer Train, and Crab Orchard Review, with grants from the Vermont Studio Center and Artist Trust of Washington. He studied at Miami of Ohio and received his PhD from Western Michigan University, where he was fiction editor of Third Coast. He teaches creative writing and literature at Pacific Lutheran University and lives in Tacoma, Washington.
Follow Jason Skipper on Twitter: @jsnskppr.