Years ago, a travel writer visiting the town referred to a woman “whose every struggle showed on her deeply lined, weatherbeaten face. Her visage stands watch over Alaville, a stoic greeting and a symbol that you have entered a town from another time.”

The writer was a useful idiot, as most writers who visit Alaville are. Among his many mistakes (none of which did anything to make Alaville seem less than a rustic paradise, and therefore none of which needed correction) was his rather trite claim to be able to read the history of Janet Kelly’s struggles physniognomically.

Janet was blessed with reasonable wealth, and reasonable intelligence. She had never struggled in any real sense of the word. She was just ugly.

She made up for this with an ample supply of kindness, good humor, the aforementioned intelligence, and an impressively positive nature. She loved well, and was loved well, and possessed the ability to forgive or at least forget those souls who believe that appearance is the sole attribute upon which a person should be judged.

But you don’t have to be tactful and tell Janet that her face has “character.” Janet owns her physical ugliness, and celebrates it, and knows that she’s worthwhile.


This little passage refers to the little town that is the setting of The Clean Hippie Murders. “Alaville” will definitely not be the name of the town in the final writing.


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