Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Trailer Park Tuesday: The Deep Code by Charley Henley

Welcome to Trailer Park Tuesday, a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

One of the things I like most about the trailer for Charley Henley’s short story collection, The Deep Code, is its arty, independent film qualities. Stark, spare, a little surreal, it unspools like something from a Hollywood lens of the 1970s. Robert Altman, Terrence Malick, and Hal Ashby spring to mind, maybe even David Lynch (the video is from “Lost Highway Films LLC”perhaps a nod to the director’s 1997 film?). The title story of the collection is also set in the era of long, slow pans and sun-haze cinematography:
First time I ever met Stanley, my mother and I had pulled off the Interstate at a truck stop west of Missoula. We’d been living at this commune over in the Okanogan Valley, in Washington State. But then my mother wore out her welcome with the hippies, and we were back on the road again. It was three days to Ohio, and she said she needed a cold can of Hamm’s and a Vick’s nasal inhaler. This was in 1979. In those days such inhalers came with a ragged amphetamine in them. She’d cut the top off of the plastic. Then shove the little cotton swab down into a beer. Said she could drive all night like that. But then coming out of the store, she spied this little trucker bar up the road. Said she needed to get her mind right for the drive. So, we went back inside, where she bought me a Savage Sword of Conan and a meat stick. Then she dropped me off at the Gremlin. “Lock the doors,” she said. “And don’t talk to strangers.”
Those opening lines of “The Deep Code” hint at Raymond Carver and Richard Ford: the grim nostalgia of the lower-middle class. That tone seeps through in the excerpt Henley narrates at the beginning of the trailer, the opening lines of the book’s final story “Cerrito Blanco,” a conversation between a father and daughter about her mother (who is serving time in jail after having shot her husband):
“You’re never going to see that woman,” he said.
“She apologized,” said Tessa.
“Your mother shot me,” he said.
“Grandmother said you deserved it.”
A good book deserves a good trailer, and Henley’s The Deep Code gets it with this haunting short film. I’m ready to grab a six-pack of Hamm’s and some meat sticks, then hit the road with these stories of “desperation and perseverance.”

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