Friday, April 27, 2007

an excerpt

Hollywood Sinners - just the first scene

(this is from my pre-edited file. So if you see a typo, avert your eyes)

By Peter Joseph Swanson

Karin scratched at the paint on some rotted wood as she looked out the narrow window of her basement apartment. She was thinking about the new invention that she’d just read about in her new March 1939 Look Magazine. It said, “Spun from coal”. It claimed to be showing the very first pictures of a new sheer hose made from Nylon, a safe fiber already used in toothbrushes and fishing string, but for hose it was thinner than number 60 sewing thread.

“You need Nylon hose,” Karin told the legs of the few women outside walking by. And she wanted them for herself, too, but she knew they’d be far too expensive. The ten-cent magazine had already used up the last of her piggybank. It was Monday and her husband wouldn’t be getting anymore pay until Friday. So she’d also be skipping more meals.

Karin Panotchitch was sixteen and had already been married a year. Her twenty-seven year old husband worked at a shoe factory assembling cardboard boxes and it was a good enough job for the place and time. But then after work he went to the pool hall until late in the evening, spending most of his pay. He spent most of his weekends with his mother, who he said was always ill. Karin hated her marriage. She hated her husband’s horrible jokes, bad breath, bad manners, and awkward last name. She was glad he was gone so much. She was glad that he’d probably forget that this day was their first year wedding anniversary. She assumed people were required to make whoopee with a spouse on a day like that. Karin was young, pretty and married, but she hadn’t made whoopee in eight months.

She spotted a cockroach on her floor, chased it and lost. She sat back down on her musty sofa and began to bawl, feeling utterly sorry for herself. She finally fell asleep. She woke up hours later to the loud sound of her husband almost falling down the wood stairs, very drunk. Though he’d somehow kept upright when what was underfoot was uneven, when he got to the tiles he fell to his knees and then his side. He ordered, “I want some fried potatoes.”

She had no food but she didn’t admit it. Karin just said, “Rest. It’ll be at least ten minutes.”

“Stupid bitch!” He blindly crawled sideways towards the couch and missed it, hitting his head on the fieldstone wall. He yelled at her unintelligibly as he backed up and finally found the cushions. He started to loudly snore.

Karin took one of the firmer throw pillows and put it snuggly over his face. He didn’t struggle for air. He just stopped breathing and died. Karin looked carefully at the pillow to see if he’d slobbered on it. It didn’t seem like he had. She smiled and put it back and then went to bed. She had trouble sleeping. She tossed and turned and tried to not think. But she was so hungry, and a hot greasy fried potato with a bit of salt was all she thought about until morning.

When the sun came back and it was bright enough in the room to read, Karin began to study her Look Magazine again. She carefully turned the large pages so they wouldn’t wear out. In the ads, a Plymouth Coupe went for 645 dollars and a Sedan for 685. She wondered how anyone could afford all that money. There was an article about U.S. Fascists but she didn’t care about that. She went back to the page about the Nylon hose and she read about how the Nylon will soon supplant silk. The silk came from Japan and their economy would suffer, as Nylon would be made at home.

Karin was glad for that as she wondered where she could get a job making Nylon hose. She imagined a marvelous tall clean white factory with shiny silver machines of the most advanced design making musical purring sounds as it spun out fibers like cotton candy. She imagined herself surrounded by mountains of hose that smelled like a cross between new clean pencil erasers and hot sugar. She assumed she’d get complimentary pairs to wear and she could wear three pairs at a time if she so chose so her legs would look like those of a flawless china doll as she sat at her Nylon-making workstation.

She looked up at her dead grey husband and finally wondered what she should do about him. She frowned; he was still such a bother. At the sheep farm she grew up on, dead animals were just dumped in a back ditch. People were supposed to be worth more dignity than sheep. Sometimes.

~ end of excerpt ~

Thanks for reading. The whole fabulous epic tale can be found in paperback at Stone Garden Publishing. It's in "general fiction". It's gorgeous!

Peter Joseph Swanson

Monday, April 02, 2007


Here are two new (customer) reviews for my new novel Hollywood Sinners.

1) Fun Romp through old Hollywood, April 2, 2007

Reviewer: Elizabeth Heskett - 5 stars.

This is the perfect book to sink into while taking a long soak in a tub with glass of wine. The story is so engaging and takes you to a time of movies that is long gone. One of it's guilty pleasures is that you can become engaged with the character easily and vicariously follow her on her path to stardom. I highly recommend this novel for a fun romp through old Hollywood.

and this one is wild! -

2) Each sentence led me down a path of anticipation, hungrily reading faster and faster to discover the events that unfolded. Karin's continuing quest for stardom takes her from tragic and seedy back rooms where those in the bowls of Hollywood continue to spin the wheels that propel the star to the inevitable. A very good read filled with action, savvy, esoteric Hollywood slang, humor, tragedy, a real combination leaving me breathless on numerous occasions. Swanson's gift with words beckons to the reader as a delicious appetizer - teases the taste-buds, to consume more and and more in an attempt to finish all. A fast paced tale spun in a maze on the road to a dream in Tinseltown. - Suzanne McKitterick

I guess that means they liked it!

Peter Joseph Swanson (the author)