The development of an author is a beautiful thing to witness; early works find him/her searching for that voice, the manipulation of a phrase, the synthesis of heart and hand in an attempt to uncover and reveal originality. This is the author's third book, and you can sense Alex finding his stride, locating the words and emotions that may have escaped him in earlier attempts.
His landscape are the hard streets of Los Angeles and Hollywood, and his chariot is a macerated taxi. These tales, vignettes, asides and dream studies describe a world more ugly than ironic, where people are strange and atavistic and the rarity is a pleasant salutation or a decent tip. But the final essay, a piece called "Willoughby Sounds Familiar," evens the scales when the driver takes a Talmudic scholar on a short fare. "I ached to be around more people such as this man I had just dropped off. There were not enough good souls in my life; my daily existence and this L.A. bunch were crushing me slowly ... My eyes watered." For all the tough-guy bravado exhibited by the taximan, he is really a big-hearted creature who has been kicked around by life and family and the world.
And that's precisely why these stories don't come off as woe-is-me jags about someone down on his luck. Rather, we're pulling for the man, we want him to succeed. Though he probably won't.
Jack Kerouac knew some little bit about the road. So does Kirk Alex. You can digest this book in two hours - it will stay with you forever.