In his brazen debut novel, Matthew Binder evokes the romance and revulsion of the image of the debaucherous, celebrated author, grasping to make life work off page.
William Cass explores a tense familial situation for a divorced couple with kids amid a city propped up on all sides by ennui and detachment, where a character’s drive for a T-ball game and a Creamsicle fogs his own humanity.
“When I pictured New York, I must have envisioned something like Wilshire and Fairfax, only with more people walking around, a shootout in progress and some meatball saying ‘fuggedaboutit’ while my wallet was nicked.”
“Now here she stood, on a balcony overlooking Adams Boulevard at a party on a warm Thursday night in June. If her flight hadn’t been delayed she would already be halfway around the world.” LAX to India.
“The priest rushed out of the entrance and raised both of his hands to the sky. He was a swan flapping its wings as his long white robe dangled from his hairy forearms. A group of old women pointed judgmental fingers at Raphael’s car.”
“I found a crooked heart of glass in the driveway in Los Angeles a few days after David left. Or did I? It seems a detail too good to be true. There’s no telling what’s a mirage in all that light in L.A. What’s real and illusion, what’s simply a reflection of all that trapped sun.”
“Nancy said the mortifying truth was what finally pierced her. That plus a poor-fitting pair of slacks I’d bought on Hollywood Boulevard from a touristy clothier who had shoe-polish ads in the window. I strode into his store against every pulsing neon omen, determined to believe he could make me look more substantial than L.A. Nancy asked if I wore the slacks to make girls swoon — like that, we were on my turf.”
“Yesterday my handsomest colleague drove me home from work. We had been held over at the office, and the late summer sun was setting orangely as we left. I waited with my back turned as he locked the front door, surprised that he had the key.”
A fast-moving excerpt from Shanna Mahin’s acclaimed debut novel, tracing the ups and downs of Jess, third-generation Hollywood trouble.
“His spirit is buoyed when he sees the lavender oil in the bathroom mirror. It’s simmering in a glass dish that glows orange over a candle; the lighting is perfect. Behind it: his mother’s curly, red hair swept up, her ivory arms rim the leaden tub against checkered tile. The dish and her hair stand out like the colorized objects in an otherwise black-and-white photo.”
“Hiram ‘Doc’ Hollywood had come to California from the Topeka World’s Fair of ’88 to build a dream factory that would bear his name. But dreams were a rough business. In his years of efforts he could never figure out the formula to get the dreams into the heads of the sleeping people (something his protege Leonardo ‘Leo’ DiCaprio would one day do), and when the dream market took a beating in the Panic of ’96, Doc Hollywood switched to movies.”
“I exist in duplicate. I double your pleasure. I double your fun. I exist in triplicate. I’m three faces of Eve. I’m a bevy of beauties. I’m Girls, Girls, Girls! My name is legion, for I am many. Good blonde, bad blonde. Born blonde, bottle blonde. I’m a blonde bombshell.”
“Rose was born in Long Beach. Wanda in the desert. Barbara Ann was the baby. Honey-colored curls made her mother hum the Beach Boys tune for which she was named. Happily hanging diapers on the homespun line strung between apartment buildings. Moments and myths long gone.”
“She had deftly used the rearview mirror since her early days of driving and rarely wasted time at home on makeup. Efficiency was of the utmost importance to her … a borderline obsession.”
“You think horrible things on your commute through the insidious cesspool that is Los Angeles … Why would anyone want to live here? You are just a dirt speck here. You are no one here. You’re from here.”