My novel PLUS ONE has been acquired by LA’s own Prospect Park for a January 2014 publication. It’s been a long haul and a terrifying submission process, but I’m super excited to get the book out.
Here’s the summary:
With two young kids and a house stuffed with thrift-store clutter, Alex Sherman-Zicklin leads a cramped, frantic, and all-too-authentic existence on the far outskirts of the Los Angeles high life. Then his wife Figgy’s fourteenth attempt at a TV pilot gets picked up, produced, and awarded an Emmy. Overnight, she’s sucked into a mad show business vortex, and Alex is tasked with managing their new high-profile Hollywood lifestyle. It’s a world of Salvadoran nannies and secret pop-up restaurants, competitive charity fundraisers and elite elementary schools. As Figgy deals with meddling network executives and a Yale-educated, Ozarks-born lead actress who complains that the hit show is “nothing I want to be associated with,” Alex falls in with a posse of fellow Plus Ones, men married to women whose success, income, and public recognition far surpass their own. To keep himself and his family intact, he’ll face the meddling of his Birkenstock lesbian mother, the temptation of a seductive lady butcher, and an opportunity that just might lift him out of the long shadow cast by his powerful spouse. Then again, he faces the possibility that his powerful spouse will trade up in favor of a newer, better model of man.
I have an illustrated piece in the new anthology Unscrolled: Writers and Artists Wrestle With The Torah.” Published by Workman Publishing Co., the book is a fascinating exercise in Biblical reinterpretation, with contributors (including Aimee Bender, Damon Lindelof and Sam Lipsyte) tackling one of the traditional parshas in the form of transcripts, essays, memoirs, letters, infographics and stories. My piece, titled “Gomer & Gazzam,” is a spin on the old “Goofus & Gallant” cartoon in Highlights Magazine.
The Jewish journal Sh’ma published my essay on being “Jewish adjacent” for an issue “on the communal impact - over the past decade or so - as Jews by choice and ‘fellow travelers’ have assumed positions of communal leadership.”
Details magazine ran this feature I did for the September issue about wellspring of resentment that builds up among over-involved parents as they create ever-more-awesome educational and enrichment opportunities for their precious progeny.
I’m doing a presentation this week at the FUSE: Design & Culture Conference with my friend and colleague Bill Goodwin. We’ll be talking about “the rejuvenile aesthetic,” our fancy-pants phraseology for the cartoony, kiddie, whimsical, playful culture that now pops up everywhere from Web 2.0 font design to modern architecture to auto styling… I’ll also hang out to sign books and stalk my fellow presenter, Malcolm Gladwell… I’m on Tuesday April 15 at 2 pm. Registration and other info here.
Forget Christmakkah and Festivus. Our interfaith holiday involves a magical rooster who fills the children’s pants with presents… I wrote this essay on our family’s crazy-fun solution to “the December dilemma” entirely for my own amusement; it was miraculously given prominent play on Salon.com and has generated a ton of highly entertaining response (read the comments here)
Reuters just picked up my feature story on parents? willingness to come clean about their most humiliating acts of stupidity. Read the whole uncut piece here. The piece grew out of a recent essay involving my five year old daughter, a bad case of the hiccups and a gorilla head, a story that friends and I are turning into a short web video. Stay tuned…
I’m set to appear tomorrow on “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” the radio show hosted by ex-Sex Pistols codger-freak Steve Jones. I’ll be one of three “guest jurors” on a two-hour segment in which he’ll play songs and we decide if said songs are “pants” (bad) or “mustard” (good). Not sure what’s up with the pants or the mustard or why I was asked to appear—must be my gig as music consultant on the Showtime series “Weeds.” Show airs on Indie 103.1 FM from 12-2 pm with a rebroadcast from 6-8 pm.
I just reviewed Neal Pollack?s new book about struggling to stay cool in the cultural dead zone of fatherhood. Pollack is a fellow Angeleno with a distaste for Barney and an obsessive desire for his kids to appreciate good rock and roll. It?s a very funny and thoughtful book, and Pollack is keeping a great Blog about the ongoing hilarity of raising his son Elijah. Elsewhere in blogland, here?s a review of my review.
Three random thoughts on the purpose, construction and organization of this brand newish website:
1 - This site replaces a crappy but serviceable one I made with an EZ-Web Designer Kit six or seven years ago - the main purpose of which was to eliminate the chore of Xeroxing and envelope-stuffing every time I pitched a story. I put the first site together with the help of a friend who I then bugged every time I wrote something new. Now he’s busy being an attorney and raising a family, so it only made sense to create a site I could futz with myself (thanks to the backend application Expression Engine) without alienating friends who actually work for a living.
2 - All praise to Susie, Travis and Matt at Hop Studios, the best little web shop in the land. Cool folks, great techies and artful designers - ideal (and affordable) partners for creative sorts who need a web presence but need help with implementation. Hire them and support expatriate Americans who fled to Canada after Bush was elected!
3 - Re. the pictures on the right hand columns - the potted succulent plants that appear over there on the left (and again on the APPEARANCES page) were photographed at Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA; the boy and girl figures that appear on the HOME and CONTACT pages can be found at the Fairyland park in downtown Oakland.
4 - Feel free to drop me a line if you have any suggestions, comments, questions or spot any errors.
Here?s a chance to join a book group - without ever stepping into a stranger?s living room, drinking bad Merlot or enduring the Deep Thoughts of a frustrated English major.
An online discussion group has begun posting messages about my book Rejuvenile. So far a dozen readers are participating, arguing points, swapping stories and picking apart my precious narrative thread by thread….
For this (and so much else), I have my wife Jenji to thank. The book group was organized by fans of Jenji?s Showtime series Weeds which just wrapped up its thrilling second season and which is honestly an incredibly good and funny program, and not just because this season has included not one but THREE product placements for the book. So if nothing else, Rejuvenile has found an audience among stoner premium cable web addicts.
If you?d like to join the fun or read what a gang of surprisingly funny and insightful readers have to say about the book, follow this link to the Showtime Weeds message board. You?ll have to register with the site, but it?s no big whup.