Call it a mobile home or trailer, there is a history of exploitation or desire for an 8 Mile escape among many past, current, and future residents. Trailer parks are “a great investment” for the rich seeking real estate paid for by desperate people. The future looks great or bleak, depending on who you ask. As the divide widens, who will survive? Will society itself collapse into a shootout between gated communities and roving bands of bunker survivalists? Angie Cavallari is an assiduous writer that has been hammering away at the craft for over 20 years. She has authored thousands of blogs and articles with some of her work featured in Huffington Post, Healthline, The Reset, SF Bay Reader, among others. A transplant to a plethora of U.S cities including her current home, Denver, Angie grew up in Florida, then moved to NYC where she picked up her husband in a bar. In spite of her propensity for wanderlust, she managed to settle down long enough to have two extraordinary kids and build a solid life with her husband of 16 years. Angie Cavallari her pen/maiden name and Angie Walker her married name as co-founder of Retro Publishing, LLC. She joined forces with a fellow book nerd and Gen X’er that had always wanted to be an indie publisher. Her new book is not fiction, and there are others too in both fiction and non, all eye-or-ear openers.
Jonathan Lowe: What made you want to write TRAILER TRASH and open up stories about your life in a memoir?
Angie Cavallari: Let me start by saying that I have always been a writer but the idea of making any money—even a pittance—as a writer was not something I was encouraged to do at any age. Instead, I would read, then write, rinse and repeat with a measure of spirits thrown in for courage. I have boxes of unfinished manuscripts and embarrassing journals dating back to when I was nine-years-old, but what I confess prompted me to write and complete my first book was that I longed to live through the stories of my youth again. To revisit these stories and memories be it good or bad. I am estranged from my family and many of those in my book like so many that we have lost in our lives are magnified like a rear-view mirror when they are gone. It’s my belief that this truth is at the heart of every author that has ever written a memoir.
JL: What was it like growing up in a trailer park and attending private schools with friends that lived in normal or typical neighborhoods?
AC: It was befogging. I remember always being aware of the social divide even from a very young age. My friends didn’t have neighbors that were openly intoxicated before noon or homes with dark, particle board walls and a roach problem. One thing I can tell you about living in a trailer—no matter how much you weigh or your age, when someone is walking down the hall it sounds like a herd of elephants approaching you. However, even as inhospitable as it sounds, I have a deep appreciation for the community that I lived in and the people that lived there. Unlike a typical suburb (which I live in today), these people are as real as it gets—they don’t put on airs and are working too hard or living too hard to bother.
JL: Do you have a favorite tenant or neighbor from your childhood?
AC: They were all so colorful but I would say, Florence. In fact, my favorite chapter to write and share during a reading is Chapter 3: The Tenants. Here is an excerpt from Trailer Trash: an ’80s Memoir.
“Perhaps the most memorable tenant I knew was Florence. And we were warned never to call her “Flo” or risk a backhand to the head. Her lot sat smack dab on the south side of our yard, and, during the eight years that she lived there, I never saw her sober. She always seemed to be coming and going from her many trips to and from the liquor store or the local watering holes, much to my father’s chagrin. You may have not heard her leave, but you always heard her return because she would take out the metal trash cans and stray cats with her 1970s pale-blue, rusted- out Cadillac. On many occasions, my father decided to perform a more subtle intervention by filling her gas tank with water while she slept off the Colt 45. Florence held a strange fascination for me and my sister. For starters, I could never figure out her age. She may have been in only her early sixties, but I would place her around seventy-eight in booze years. And she wasn’t the kind of sweet old lady who wanted to connect with children or keep butterscotch candies in a faux crystal jar for younger guests. Most days Florence would proudly sport a halter top sans a brassiere and briskly march across her yard in crudely trimmed cut-off jeans—her cheap flip flops flailing off her feet and her sagging breasts bouncing in cadence to her determination to find escape through a good time.”
JL: Do you listen to audiobooks?
AC: I prefer to listen most books on audio, but classics such as Pride and Prejudice I prefer to read in print. Currently, I am recording my book from the privacy of my closet and an expensive microphone. I hope to have it finished in the next two months but it will need finessing by a professional so stay tuned!
JL: I have an upcoming story collection, including scifi and satire based on The Rockford Files. Do you think your book will reach a wide audience?
AC: That is my hope as an author. But even if a reader cannot relate to trailer park living, or even spending sticky summers in Florida, they can certainly connect to ’80s nostalgia. Believe it or not, I have many millennials that love learning about the ’80s and are fascinated by a time when they were not tethered to technology—I think we are all longing for that time as well.
JL: Indeed. It’s all about money, now, maybe even to Eminem. Thanks, Angie.
Trailer Trash tells the story of Angie Cavallari, your typical girl growing up in the 1980s who finds herself cradled in an arm of a society that would be considered anything but your paradigmatic suburban neighborhood. In 1980, Angie and her two siblings are dropped into a world of the poorest tenements during a decade where material wealth was worshipped. But these are not your usual run-of-the-mill Florida retirement occupants—these are tenants with issues that Angie soon realizes are the same that can happen anywhere—even under her own roof. Her place in society is further confused by the fact that she doesn’t live in a trailer but nonetheless, shares a postage-sized backyard with a less-desired community by societal standards and attends a prestigious private school more than 45 minutes from her cinderblock castle. After spending a decade living in a world of indiscernible differences, Angie’s family decides it’s time to pull up stakes, sell the trailer park and buy a double-wide trailer of their own in the Carnie Capital of World, Gibsonton, Florida. Funny at times, nostalgic throughout, Trailer Trash hits on some serious notes and undertones about societal differences and the trials of surviving childhood in any decade and any environment.