Blake Nelson's Girl
is a coming-of-age novel about a shy, sorta-alternative high schooler living in a suburb of Portland—I'm sure I wasn't the only teenager out there who overrelated to it, found it comforting, found it influential. So it's exciting to learn that more than 15 years after Girl
's publication, Nelson is working on a followup, which he's serializing on Figment.com
, a new YA writing community/ networking site. Protagonist Andrea has left Portland for Wellington College in Connecticut, which I assume is a stand in for Wesleyan (any alums want to confirm that? Part of the fun of Girl
, as a Portlander, is picking out the thinly veiled local references). There are only two chapters up so far, but it looks like Nelson is setting up tension between Andrea's low-key West Coast hipsterism and the East Coast prep school world, while pointing toward some big "what am I going to be when I grow up?" questions. (The fact that he's serializing it online is interesting—Girl
was originally serialized in Sassy
, though he says he has "no plans at this time" to publish Dream School
in hard form.)
But when we left I started telling Vanessa about the music scene in Portland, like really telling her, like before I had just described it but now I was telling her about the spirit of doing your own music and having your own scene and how no one thinks there’s an underground now but there’s always an underground. Always. Even if it’s just one girl in her room making songs on her computer. We were walking down frat row as we talked and the frats were cranking up their Friday parties and listening to Black Eyes Peas and it was a perfect demonstration of how boring and predictable the rest of the world was.
And! Speaking of local authors. Kevin Sampsell has a great, too-brief excerpt from his novel-in-progress up at the Writers' Dojo. I wish he'd post more of it already, I want to know what happens next.