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Working the Hard Side of the Street

Kirk Alex

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (2 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Tucumcari Press

Published : 1999

Copyright : Kirk Alex 1993, 1999

ISBN-10 : PB 0-939122-25-1
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-939122-25-7

Publisher's Write-Up

Selected stories, poems and screams.

42 poems and 52 stories.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul Lappen (130903) Rating (9/10)
Review by Victim (080803) Rating (7/10)

Review by Paul Lappen
Rating 9/10
This is a group of short stories and poems about life in present-day Hollywood, as seen from the bottom looking up.

Alex is a native of Sarajevo who found himself in Los Angeles by way of Brussels and Chicago (plus an Army stint in Vietnam). He had writing in his blood, and figured L.A. was the place to go. While amassing rejection slips, he worked a variety of jobs, including furniture moving, painting apartments, TV repos and delivering phone books door-to-door.

Much of the book concerns his experiences behind the wheel of a taxi. Some of those he meets are decent, reasonable people; others can be described in terms much less complimentary. One day, an older woman gets into his cab and says that she is Maria Callas, the international opera star. The only problem is that Maria Callas died several months previously. When apprised of the fact, "Ms. Callas" gets very angry and belligerent and refuses to pay her fare. She is taken away by the police.

Later in the book, Alex sells his cab and goes in with some friends on the making of a horror film to break into the video market. Called Bloodsucking Geeks (written by Alex), the budget can best be described as tiny. All of the video distributors are either not interested, or they want total control on a vague promise of future payment. After several months, with no job and no money to buy a cab and return to the streets, Alex finds himself experiencing involuntary dieting (also called starvation).

City of Angels? Maybe for that couple of percent of people who get anywhere near that thing called "fame and fortune." Everyone else is just trying to get by in a place where, if you don't have the right job and a flashy car, the odds are very much stacked against you.

This book is excellent. It's full of honest, heartfelt writing that certainly shows a very different view of Hollywood. It's also highly recommended.
Paul Lappen (13th September 2003)

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Review by Victim
Rating 7/10
Well I have to admit I know nothing about poetry, nothing about being a cab driver ('specially not in LaLa Land) and even less about being a writer. This is a collection of Short Stories, Poems and Screams, or so it says, I won't go for the "If it doesn't rhyme it isn't poetry" bit, partly because it's getting rather old, partly because I know bugger all about poetry...

This is one that I was given on my way to the CCDE weekend, and I was given no warning as the review request was made ages ago! It is not something I would have bought in a shop, because, well - Poetry!

The paper has a lovely texture, and it is nicely printed, which were my first impressions, kind of silky... OK enough of that, it makes me sound like a bibliophile (Mmm Paper!)

I began reading this, wondering what was happening, partly through lack of sleep and a skinful the night before, sitting in a field in Suffolk, in the sunshine drinking warm Coke (Yuk!)

It kicks off with the poetry bit, which did confuse me a little. Quite dark, if it is biographical, I feel for this guy. The Short Stories are in sequence and follow on, apart from odd little interludes, it is almost extracts from a diary, but fleshed out (I guess - I don't even write that much) The trials and tribulations of an aspiring writer.

The main character Chance Register is probably a nice guy, most of the time, which is how I hope people are, thinking the best of people, again - most of the time.

Starting immediately after the breakup of a relationship, and going on from there, the poems at the beginning are slightly brutal, written with venom (I imagine) As the book progresses the emphasis on the breakup lessens, with more trouble coming to replace that hurt. There is little bitterness though. I dunno - it reached me in ways I don't like to think about. It does however seem to just stop, leaving me with the feeling that there is another chapter that I have missed, just to conform to the normal way of reading books, I can't really out it in words...

Overall, this is a nicely put together piece of work. I wish I knew more about the author, how much of it is biographical I don't know, there is no bio section (See Author Section - Kirk Alex, Ed.). If it is purely fiction, I have to hand it to the author, it is a nice job. If it has a basis in fact, I really do feel for this guy, either way it is well put together, and if I do see anything else by the same author I will buy it.

Not really my cup of tea - as it does have those aspects I try to ignore in myself - probably should mark it higher for that, but... I dunno. How typical am I as a reader? That is partly what it comes down to, I will give it a 7/10.
Victm (8th August 2003)

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