Working the Hard Side of the Street
by Kirk Alex
Category: Fiction / General
366 pages; ISBN: 0939122251
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
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.