Guy Choate, founder and director of North Little Rock’s Argenta Reading Series, launches a book debut in the form an illustrated essay called “Gas! Gas! Gas!” It’s a sliver of Army life during basic training that, with an assist from illustrator Evan Hallmark, serves as a portrait of masculinity and military culture as well as a chapter of Choate’s biography. It’s also the the debut publication from Runaway Trolley Press, a small press founded by Guy Choate and Derek Berry.
“I realized I was a writer—or I became a writer—during basic training, because all I wanted to do was write letters to my mom. I think I saw it as a way of documenting what was happening, which has since become my thing,” Choate said, referring to his current autobiographical work that often becomes uproariously funny because of its smallest details. “I carried notebook paper in my breast pocket and wrote on the butt of my M-16 to send letters home to my mom. I knew that she loved it because she would write back immediately, and we had a great dialogue going on. It got to the point where even when I had the rare opportunity to make a phone call home, I wouldn’t do it because I didn’t want to mess up the flow of the narrative I had been developing, if all of a sudden—spoiler alert!—I’m about to tell you everything that’s in the letter you’re about to get.”
Both Choate and illustrator Evan Hallmark will be onsite at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Bookstore at Library Square for Second Friday Art Night, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday, March 13.