You know that sinking feeling you get when a good friend hands/sends you a manuscript and they utter those dreaded words, "Will you read my first book?" You know how it's always accompanied by a half-smile and the age-old condescending convo about how "so few people ever finish a book" and "it's great that you tried?"
Now imagine that hunk of paper comes with a lengthy missive about how the book will someday be supplemented by interactive original music, links to random Internet tomfoolery that may or may not provide clues to the story and, oh yeah, it'll all be read online. Oh, and it involves giant squid.
That was what confronted me a couple of years back when my good friend (and writer for the L.A. Times, LA Weekly, Huffington Post and sometimes OW) Brandon Perkins handed me his magnum opus, entitled "Please Use Rear Exit," which takes place in one crazy night in a futuristic L.A. in which people live their entire lives on bus lines that are controlled and influenced by the Internet.
There was an invisible girl and Elvis karaoke; Tupac was alive and the figurehead of The Tupac Shakur Association of Being Dastardly Dapper (TSABDD) â?? former Laker Robert Horry was his muscle man, too. People club-hopped between places called Something, Sports Thing and, if they're lucky, Sky Thing.
My first inclination was to work with Mr. Perkins' family and friends to stage an intervention. Clearly, he'd spent too long in Los Angeles and something had snapped. But I kept reading and found that, in between the pop-culture diarrhea and the fraternal moments of dick-swinging subterfuge lied hopelessly romantic, tenderly observed commentary on the search for acceptance and transcendence in a high-speed consumption culture.
Also, giant squid.
To my eternal bafflement, Perkins has managed to release this thing â?? or at least the first few chapters â?? online, for free. And it seems to be gaining some steam in only its first week as a genuine cultural oddity. The sneak preview (Perkins will post additional chapters as interest grows) has already inspired one P.U.R.E.-related mixtape from L.A.'s DJ Original Bozak, featuring cuts from King Khan & the Shrines and Yacht, and yesterday Perkins was interviewed for Suicide Girls radio (Indie 103.1 LA) about his book and the future of reading literature on Kindles and the iPad.
An original song inspired by the book is also in the works by a couple of big indie names that I'm not allowed to mention at this point.
Not bad for the first time out. Give the first chapter a try here. Just don't ask me to explain what it all means.