This Sunday I did my first reading—the first in a long time—at The Last Bookstore, an independent manuscript emporium downtown. The Last Bookstore is located in the Bank District in a grand old neoclassical building that once housed the Crocker Bank. Grecian columns, parquet floors, mouldings for miles—these are the architectural wonders you behold when you walk into what can only be described as an edifice.
It is a monument to all that is grand and lost—a monument to Ozymandias.
I did the reading with my friend Thomas who just finished writing his detective novel. If you recall, Thomas was the guy I helped during a difficult time– moment in which he hit bottom and attempted to commit suicide, a moment that landed him in the loony bin and, later, a series of halfway houses. I started writing my detective fiction as a fun thing to do with Thomas. He’s a really smart guy—an Ivy League grad—but he never got it together to pursue his one ambition: writing. So, I wrote a detective story about an Ivy League alcoholic (kind of as a joke) to egg him along in his writing process.
I didn’t know that it would go full distance. I didn’t know he would go full distance either. My idea of a success story was that he would not slit his wrists; my idea was that he would want to keep on keeping on; I was just hanging out with a friend.
But voila! Thomas has written his book. I’m only a few chapters away from finishing mine. It is fitting that we did our first reading together. The location is meaningful, too. My narrative takes place in Downtown LA and, coincidentally, begins only a few blocks away. And oh yeah, another coincidence: my first bank account was with Crocker Bank—now defunct—but at one time a banking giant in Southern California. They used to give out freebie plush Crocker Spaniels. And yes, I did sleep with mine.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Oh, how they have risen—risen from what once was but a shell of a shell.