I mean I am a late developer in regards to being open to pop culture. For instance, I wasn’t into Seinfeld until it became syndicated. I also don’t get what the big deal is about the 1998 cult classic “The Big Lebowski” is but I am willing to give it a 3rd look if it’s really that important.
Perhaps I just don’t like people telling me what I am supposed to like- as in; “You just have to see this new prime time show called Whitney- She is edgy and sarcastic like you- it’s your kind of comedy!”
That comment will just turn me off. In my mind I am way too hip to like anything that is prime time or has canned laughter. Still, I did miss out watching Seinfeld when the rest of the world was watching.
I imagine that everyone has already seen the documentary called “D.I.Y. or Die” from 2002 and they already knew who Stephen Elliot was and why he was interviewed on that film. After all, his first book was published in 1998. I only saw D.I.Y or Die last July (2011) when I was stuck on my couch with the flu and I just couldn’t bring myself to watch another Rom-com, Dram-com, Drama-rama-dy or whatever.
Something about Stephen Elliot in that film seemed familiar. He was filmed in what looked like any one of my friend’s apartments- a skateboard behind him, surrounded by his books. He said something about the need to self-publish because he couldn’t imagine anyone willing to publish stories about junkies and whores. He also made a statement that made poetic sense to me; “Writing is the need to communicate and be alone at the same time. “ That was all it took to make me want to hear more from him- so I picked up one of his books- “A Life Without Consequences”.
The book starts off “Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. There are no innocent.” I giggle out loud (G.O.L.) to myself “Tee hee hee, serves them right.” I had always figured I’d do the same thing- good for you my new friend Stephen Elliot.
You will know in the first 8 paragraphs if you and Stephen are going to be friends, at least I did. I voraciously read 4 books penned by Mr. Elliot and I am halfway through reading a 5th. My favorite is still the first: A Life Without Consequences but maybe that is because it was like our first kiss, or that fist high, I will forever romanticize it in my mind.
I could go into descriptions of each of his books, but you can easily read those on Amazon or Google. I think I’d rather just tell you as my friend that I like reading Stephen Elliot because it feels like I am hearing a story from an old buddy. Maybe I have had some twisted friends in my life? Maybe I’m twisted and fucked up myself?
If your family life did not resemble a Norman Rockwell painting then you may be interested or be able to relate while reading some of his work. If you hung out at the Anti Club or Cathay De Grande in the late 80’s and early 90’s or spent any time at Club Fuck! or Sin-A-Matic in the years following, then you probably could be one of my friends too.
In case there are any other late developers out there like me, who happen to be somehow hip enough to read the L.A. Beat, then I would like to recommend you give him a read. If you like Bukowski, Chuck Palahniuk, or just real life stories about survival against all odd but hate to read stories that can be described as “stories of survival against all odds”, then Stephen Elliot may be your guy. He writes poetically without being flowery. He writes about beauty but in that dirty gritty way that makes you want to throw a bitch down and fuck her in an alleyway. (Don’t fret- I mean that in the most safe, sane and consensual way)
This is my best non-recommendation I can make. Like saying “You have got to read this book- it’s so you” will make you definitely not read it. Well I am trying to make sure I don’t do that, because I know everyone has already known about him forever anyway and I am the last to know.
I have thoroughly enjoyed and gobbled up these four of his books;
A Life Without Consequences (2001)
What it Means to Love You (2002)
Happy Baby (2004)
The Adderall Diaries (2009)
I am currently reading My girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up. (2006)
He has two other books I haven’t read; one called Jones Inn (1998) and the other is Looking Forward to It (2004)