I have finished editing Journal of American Progress, a self-published book of eight short stories.
There is a $2.99 download available for the ipad.
My hope is to reach a wider audience, in an easy and economical way.
I am publishing for the new generation who reads on a tablet.
Here again is a summary of the book. I ask your forgiveness for the self-promotion
but hope that you will think it well-earned:
JOURNAL OF AMERICAN PROGRESS
Andy Hurvitz crafts a collection of short stories, of people caught in the illusory melting pot of Los Angeles.
In three stories, inspired by the late Billy Strayhorn’s mordantly elegant song titles: a taunting teen thug gets his comeuppance in “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing”; a retail sales clerk imagines he is friends with a laconic Western heir in “Something to Live For” ; a bitter decorator escapes to Chicago to plot revenge on his reality TV rival in “Lush Life”.
Colton Banning is the protagonist of three stories where the young multi-racial athlete, escaping desert poverty, tempts fate to conquer Hollywood through sports and social climbing, encountering wealth and power poisoned by sadism, revenge, sexual desire and envy in the beaches and bedrooms of Venice, Santa Monica, and Malibu.
In “Somebodies and Nobodies” a sex tape could blackmail a powerful woman and Colton risks his life to get it; Colton rents a room in a messy Venice house of refugees from India and Vermont, pursuing poetry, power and sex in “Journal of American Progress”; and in “The Bright Shop”, he is back in time, in 1969, to meet a successful LA fashion retailer living in an architectural dream house, a place she escaped to from the Holocaust. Two other tales explore desperation under the sun: In “Dry Wind”, a depressed film editor, tempted by escape and money, submits to an ex-girlfriend’s manipulation, falling under her spell, into theft and sex, on a car trip to San Angelo, TX . And in “Day of the Deltoid” a bored, sexually addicted housewife navigates between decadence and respectability while remodeling her Cheviot Hills home.
No person who knows or dreams of Los Angeles can fail to be moved by this cunning and insightful writer whose caustic and poetic prose breathes the dirty air and fresh dreams of this region. It is an elegiac and entertaining collection.
Manipulated by Hollywood promises, an indebted editor, working on a pop star video, suffers blinding headaches, red eyes, and debilitating depression;and is sent on a fool’s errand to take stolen money to an old woman in San Angelo, Texas; confronting tragedy, memory and love’s delusions.
An excerpt from my new short story “The Bright Shop”.
A European refugee designs a new life in 1960s Los Angeles only to see it crumble, near the Pacific, on the edge of a new decade.
Tail Road runs like a jagged capillary along the top of a mountain ridge, rising up from the ocean near Santa Monica and high up into the canyon. Below it, cliffs, rocks and erosion.
It’s a narrow finger of a road, shaded and hidden, wooded and secluded, a private place, home to a very few, who live behind walls and gates, eucalyptus and ornamental grasses, sprayed in fog and breeze.
Rich are the residents, self-made or self-employed, made wealthy by defending the law- or defying it.
At the western end of Tail Road, just before its precarious termination over Pacific Coast Highway, the one-story, steel and glass, 1957 Seams House sits on a flat, two-acre promontory.
Excerpt from “The Bright Shop“, a new short story by Andy Hurvitz
The Student Athlete
On another Sunday with Henry, Tanya sat with her newspaper, atop the wood deck of the Malibu West Beach Club as Henry played in the sand.
A roof rhyming repetition of half circles and hanging globe lights, the beach club’s young, casual, jaunty and informal architecture echoed its members, an athletic, friendly, successful group who worked hard at leisure.
Multi-ethnic, the people included a Chinese born Physics professor, Dr. Hy Loh, 35, who did chin-ups in his speedo; a Malaysian model, Jacinda Pu-See, who had just been cast in a James Bond movie; and Argentine immigrant Dr. Limon Jacobs whose psychological citrus treatment and adherence to a diet omitting yellow fruits was all the rage.
The flighty film colony buzzed the grounds, landing on the deck in their oversized sunglasses and deep tans, puffing and exhaling, taking off in sudden flight and eccentric gesticulation, marking beach territory in lush olfactory waves of Aramis and Chanel No. 5.
Late Sunday afternoon, up on the Coast Highway, Tanya and Henry were driving home, when she saw a tall, muscular mulatto man in a red swimsuit hitchhiking. She had seen him before, back at the beach, flipping, somersaulting, jumping and running in the surf.
Without a thought, she pulled over and told Henry to get in back so the hiker could get in.
He introduced himself as Colton Banning. He told her he was studying at UCLA’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Up close she carefully studied the student’s broadly carved chest, flat stomach, and tawny skin. They made conversation about school, Malibu and Vietnam.
Without concern or caution, she invited him up to the house.
She hoped the architecture might seduce him.
Colton Banning is back. He is living, near the Venice canals, in a messy house full of conflicted characters. Surrounded by dirt, disorder and self-absorption, he is lusted after by an older woman and taken into a poet’s suffering.
Journal of American Progress
Colton Banning is back. He is living, near the Venice canals, in a messy house full of conflicted characters.
Surrounded by dirt, disorder and self-absorption, he is lusted after by an older woman and taken into a poet’s suffering.
In honor of my new short story “Somebodies and Nobodies“, which ends on the Fourth of July, I present an excerpt:
“He climbed back over the balcony rail and lowered himself, floor-by-floor, jumping onto each level and then exiting by grabbing, over the rail, swinging down, bending, moving, slithering, twisting, down and down, until his feet finally touched ground.
He was still trapped inside the compound. He held onto the twelve foot high, barbed wire fence and began to climb.
And then his movement triggered the security lights. He pulled himself up over the fence, out of the compound and into the park. Sirens started wailing. The lights shot over the fence, and he could see armed guards coming through and giving chase.
He bolted like a gazelle through the park, his thickly powerful muscled legs no match for the blue-suited, paunchy police.
He cut diagonally across Admirality and into the parking lot of Café Del Rey restaurant along the water, next to the yachts, boats and the docks.
The sky suddenly lit up in pink and orange, a brilliant colossal light show illuminating the harbor, throwing the buildings into daylight under the night sky.
He ran into a crowd of people watching fireworks, and realized as he ran that he was running on the Fourth of July.
He sprinted down the promenade, under the exploding fire show, across to Mother’s Beach, where more revelers and partiers drank and laughed on the blankets and sand. <brUnder pyrotechnic protection he evaded helicopters.
He ran over to Washington, onto the beach and dove into the ocean. He swam out, past the pier, turning north and swimming the crawl along the shore, parallel to land.
Somewhere in the ocean near Rose Avenue, some 50 yards out, he stopped swimming and began to kick his legs and tread water. He went on his back and floated with the motion of the ocean. His heart slowed down as he rocked in the sea. And, for the first time in days, he felt free in his own capsule of calm and tranquility.
Kicking his legs and treading water, he pulled out the VHS tape from his spandex pants and released it into the ocean. He let the tide pull him in, as he collapsed onto the beach in elated and relieved exhaustion.”
Excerpt from “Somebodies and Nobodies”my new short story about a poor athlete, fatherless and street smart, who escapes the California desert and comes to Santa Monica in search of glory and finds himself mixed up between a divorced couple whose failures and successes echo his own life.
“He imagined and wondered, trying to understand his blood-bursting passions. Who was buried deep within his DNA? Who came before him? Whose genes were his?
Sometimes he imagined himself descended from a warrior, other times: a convict, a poet, a dancer; a fighter, a general, a killer, a composer, an explorer, a ship captain, a priest.
He was born poor in the low desert east of Palm Springs, near the saguaro and sagebrush, to Tania Santos, a 19-year-old Mexican housekeeper from Durango, and El Paso born Grayson Waypole, a black man, a 22-year-old cook and expert marksman, dishonorably discharged from the Marines, who was said to be father to 30 children stretching from Indio to 29 Palms.
After Colton’s birth, Waypole went wayward.
Tania was migrant and undocumented. She dragged Colton up and down to all the stifling desert towns where the air is hot and life is hard.
She took a job with the Coachella Valley High School and worked as a cook in the school cafeteria, dumping vats of potato salad, franks and beans into steel trays.
Mother and son lived in a flat, pebble-roofed house on dusty Bagdad Avenue, a place where people parked their pickup trucks in dirt-covered front yards.”
An excerpt from my new short-story, “Somebodies and Nobodies”:
Colton drove his car into a back alley behind the Last Stop Bar. He made a pillow out of his sweatpants and tried to fall asleep again. His nocturnal mind raced with the excitement of that day’s rescue and heroism.
Unable to sleep at that blue hour, a time when food trucks make their deliveries and only rats and cops wander the streets, Colton drank black coffee, bit into a day-old rye bagel and got out of his car.
Along Main Street were rows of tightly packed, one-story buildings. He picked one, grabbed a window security bar and hoisted himself up onto the roof.
There the young sentry stood, still bleary and sleepy, looking across dozens of dark rooftops. He rubbed his hands together, stretched out his legs and calves, and accelerated into an acrobatic sprint.
He ran and ran atop multiple roofs, rubber on tar, easily catapulting over skylights, over and around small protrusions, air-conditioning, water pipes and vents.
Packed with self-assurance, he dove across dozens of the little stores like an escaped felon, without falling or tripping, in grace and speed.
He landed back, hard, on top of the Last Stop Bar. He sat down on a milk crate to catch his breath. Out of the darkness he heard a hoarse male voice.
“Hey you. Get down. I’ve got a gun in my hand and I’ll blast you!”
Colton disarmed doubt with deference, raised his hands up and stood warily and cautiously near the gutter. “Sir, I am just practicing. I’m not a criminal. I promise.”
“Gregory took a long, slow bus ride down La Brea and got off at West Adams.
He passed, on foot, the surviving remnants of the dying hood: auto body shops, crosses and churches, student murals, liquor stores and lottery signs, steel gated store windows, shop fronts in plywood and poster.
Mr. Obama painted like an icon with the words HOPE and CHANGE and YES WE CAN on a red brick wall.
At Hillcrest, he turned right and walked south past the silent windows and empty pews of the Southern Missionary Baptist Church, where he had once sung in choir and prayed in earnest.
Hillcrest was bright and treeless, lined with old stucco apartments and small houses. Neglected and aging African-Americans churched, worked and lived here, but lately the XXXL black-shirted Latinos had taken over. “
- Excerpt from “Lush Life” by Andy Hurvitz
It’s tough to write and tough to get others to read my short stories.
I recently set out to challenge myself to write three short stories based upon the music of a composer whom I admire, the late Billy Strayhorn.
Somehow the songs from “Billy Strayhorn: Piano Passion” entered my sub-conscious and inspired me to write. I listened to the music and let my imagination breathe.
In “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” a peaceful gardener is taunted by a neighborhood thug, a small tale that involves the Armenian genocide and a young man’s death on the streets of Los Angeles.
“Something to Live For” takes us to Woodland Hills where a department store clerk, working in a dead end job, comes to idolize a rich, older, mysterious man with a tragic past.
“Lush Life” paints a story of a sour success, a Los Angeles decorator who seeks to ruin a rival by destroying and seducing the rival’s client, and, in the process degrading and demoralizing himself and others.
In my work, I again return to familiar themes of Western anomie and people adrift online and in life, searchers and artists and wanderers who yearn for approval and recognition but often end up shamed and despised.
There is a strong urge in America to build up and build out, but there is also a corollary force of self-destruction, manifested in our long working hours, obesity, and what Mencken called “our libido for the ugly”: the billboard, fast-food, freeway and condo wasteland.
I won’t be so arrogant as to proclaim my fiction true, only to modestly state that I hope some truth is present in my writing.
I try to entertain and create and write something of value and artistry. It is a small pin on the map.
But I would rather start with a small diamond circle of integrity than create a large circle of lies encompassing the globe.
The dehumanized environment of sprawl, the mania for fame, the race for riches, the destruction of nature and the cheapening of life, the debasement of entertainment and the loss of privacy, these are some of the themes stamped onto my work.
new short story by Andy Hurvitz
“Incident at Gelson’s”
Andy Hurvitz’s new short-story about a woman, Gelson’s, watermelons, olives, Encino and George Clooney.
Please check out my other writing blog where I post short stories and screenplays.
My newest short story is “The Neutrogena Man”, a tale about a middle aged man escaping from emotional pain by immersing himself in cosmetic bliss.
Please let me know what you think of the story. And of anything else I’ve written.
I have posted a new fictional short story, “Where I Come From” on my other blog.
If you are from CAA, UTA, Endeavor or WMA, please consider purchasing rights to this or any of the other stories on my website. It will help me fulfill my dreams of leaving Los Angeles and moving back to NY.