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Hollis Gillespie is acutely aware of the ridiculousness of life—the specifics of her own, yes, but the larger madness as well. You might expect this, of course, of a young woman born to a rocket-scientist mother (“she had wanted to be a beautician, but had become a weapons designer instead”) and a Lomanesque drunk of a father (he “would not have been caught without his designer shoes….They made his stride purposeful, so that when he walked into his favorite bar, his friends would take him for a man of standing”). But once you read of her adventures in puppy-mangling (with a tennis racket, idly and with no ill will, at age 5) and in magazine copy-editing (“our hate for each other was so thick it was almost nourishing,” she recalls of the office dynamic), you’ll understand that a life of alt-weekly column-writing and NPR commentary was more or less inevitable. In Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch (the epithet a local wacko chose for our highlighted heroine when she decided to gentrify his Atlanta neighborhood), Gillespie demonstrates a gift for the arresting opening line—”Recently I was staring at eight naked strangers,” for instance, or “You’d think having a klepto in the family would be fun, but my mother could never steal the right things”—as well as a genuinely humane sensitivity to the fears and foibles that drive her family and friends (and all of us) to our various extremes. Come up with your own colorful nickname when Gillespie speaks at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Trey Graham)