Monday, February 5, 2018

Book Review: 'Icarus Falling' by Christopher Paul Meyer

Christopher Paul Meyer writes noir and nonfiction. He is a former bouncer, comic, soldier, firefighter, actor and prison chaplain. Prior to ICARUS FALLING, he wrote five screenplays, three of which were optioned and/ or commissioned. He has also edited and introduced the compilation of his late father’s short works, I WAS A CHAMPION THEN, a book that for this reader was a wakeup call to a new writer with a plethora of talent. His sensitivity and keen vision of contemporary life is matched by his puckish sense of humor – as he adds in his bio, ‘When not writing, he enjoys Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, improv comedy and directing political rants at his reflection in the bathroom mirror.’

Having read this book in portions, indulging in the style of writing as well as the memoiresque nature of the book, writing a review has seemed...difficult. For brevity sake, the story is outlined here: ‘The true story of a failed actor, who - still tantalized by the promise of LA - reinvents himself as a nightclub bouncer. Working both downtown and on the Sunset Strip, he is thrust into the bloodstream of LA. Amidst the unending parade of strung-out transients, shimmering miniskirts, enraged gangbangers and unhinged party people, he avenges his history of cowardice, atones for his past infidelities and tries to become something better than another Hollywood casualty.’

But then up pops one of his excerpts from his email and readdressing this splendid book is warranted. The excerpt follows: ‘I spent most days at the internet cafe on Sunset and La Brea where I’d try to find an unoccupied seat among the transients, the trannies and the Goths. It felt like a lot more than three miles away from Century City. This was where LA’s sun-kissed face turned into a snarl. I ignored the whispered propositions, the silent stares and the paranoid glances so I could troll for gigs on Craigslist. Maybe an art gallery on Wilshire needed a bathroom attendant for its next show. Or ABC Family Channel was hiring twenty-somethings to walk around the Beverly Center mall in costumes. There might be a guy paying $120 for someone to drive a limo for him and his friends on New Year's Eve. Every few days I would find something to keep the wolf from the door for one more week. After my latest gig, I was crammed next to a crew of starry-eyed, aspiring-somethings around a deli counter on Ventura Blvd. They were actors, comedians, singers, still scrambling optimistically for agents and auditions and big breaks. I, on the other hand, was Icarus falling, flailing for anything to slow my plummet. In other words, I really needed a steady job. The blonde at the other end of the counter was mid-paragraph into some long ramble I had stopped caring about minutes ago. "We really need people at my job. They’re getting desperate." I tried to remember what kind of job she had said she had. Waitress? No, bartender. At a nightclub. "What kinda jobs?" I asked like I had been listening all along. "Do you do security?" I did now. “Hell yeah.”

Treat yourself to one of the more fascinating, perceptive, and completely entertaining books of the past year. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, July 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.