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The Diamond Bikini

May 1, 2014
Posted at 8:54 am

Someone emailed this to me - and I just want to share because there are so many wonderful things said here;

Hello Amanda Serve,

I have recently started reading your story *Hard Times* and I love it. You say in your profile that you aren*t writing for the masses, which is in fact is amply borne out by some of the questions you answer in the Companion. On most of them, I only had to read the question to anticipate your answer and to think to myself, *Wow! They really don*t get it, do they?*
In particular, I find the setting of a trailer camp very intriguing. I am a product of the upper middle class and have never lacked for money, but I lived in Africa for five years in my teens, where I saw first-hand how families lived on $12 to $20 a month in the late fifties -- but I also recognized that they were people. I was reminded of that contrast when I saw a critique of Robert Kaplan*s An Empire Wilderness, where Kaplan describes his shock at how different the passengers boarding a bus in Mississippi are from *normal* Americans like you (maybe not so much -- depends on how much of your early self you left behind in the trailer parks -- you certainly sound like you at least remember quite vividly, and maybe have some nostalgia for, your childhood) or me (and I*m not even American, although I have a Green Card). The critic* point being of course that Kaplan is an arrogant elitist for not realizing that the Walmart people constitute a sizable chunk of the American peopl
e. (Here*s a link to Kaplan on Wikipedia: if you*re interested). So congratulations on defying conventions. Not that it hasn*t been done before; cf. Erskine Caldwell and John Steinbeck.
Also, I like it that you take your time and write actual stories about people*s lives. I get really frustrated with 1,000-word stroke stories. What you*re writing isn*t porn anyway. It has erotic content, but then, unless they are total assholes, so do most people.
And the occasional joke or humorous trait. So far, I think your best is naming that fighting black girl Clymidia. So plausible -- almost like Latrina! Is it real? Have you met a Clymidia?
Your voice as Ellen is excellent. She is a very likable, if exasperating, heroine. I have no problem with her ambivalence, oscillating between the champion of rules and orderly behavior versus the rebel versus the fear of losing cred with her contemporaries. I have a harder time liking Savannah, but that is surely a result of my own upbringing an personality: I was an *easy* child. I*ve become a little more adventurous since but not a whole lot. BTW, I was reminded of The Diamond Bikini by Charles Williams, which was told in the voice of the six-year old son of a shady racecourse con artist who winds up with a redneck moonshiner family in Texas (after having travelled, in the boy*s words, through all the great cities of America: Aqueduct, Pimlico, Hialeah, Churchill Downs, etc...). I think you*d enjoy reading it. Charles Williams is almost unknown in this country today -- he is actually better known in France. That is where The Diamond Bikini was made into a hilarious movie -
- probably unobtainable today.

Forgive me for rambling, and THANK YOU for *Hard Times!* Keep up the good work!