Sunday, September 09, 2007

Phillips’ Own 2008 Race

A couple of months back, we reported that Los Angeles wordsmith Gary Phillips, the creator of doughnut-loving private eye Ivan Monk, had begun penning a serial novella for, a housing-advocacy Web site that quite ambitiously publishes fiction as well. There have now been five installments posted of Phillips’ “The Underbelly,” a crime tale that features a semi-homeless Vietnam vet who gets mixed up in a disappearance, deaths, and large-scale civic development. (See the latest entry here.) And the first chapter has already been reprinted in New Angeles, a monthly L.A. tabloid that Phillips describes as “a giveaway for the new downtown loft set, baby!”

The author tells me via e-mail that “‘Underbelly’ is slated to go for 15 installments, maybe 16--with No. 6 out [of] the box end of [this] week.” He’s already scouting around for somebody to publish that novella in mass-market book form.

Meanwhile, Phillips has a second print serial in the works, set to debut soon in The Nation, a venerable and politically progressive weekly magazine that is known for, among other things, advocating George W. Bush’s impeachment and breaking the Valerie Plame CIA leak scandal (which of course led to the criminal prosecution of Dick Cheney’s chief of staff). This other serial will be a political thriller entitled “Citizen Kang.” Phillips says that “It will first be done in monthly installments for the first months, then biweekly, then weekly leading up to the ’08 presidential election. À la the satirical Tanner ’88 that ran on HBO (created by the late Robert Altman and Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau), my goal is to combine current political shenanigans, real world figures, and sly commentary into the scenario of this lefty indie pol, Cynthia Kang, a congresswoman from Monterey Park, California, running for office while the murder of her senator mentor, questions about her sexuality, her errant brother’s troubles, and more, play out ...”

“Citizen Kang” will debut on The Nation’s Web site by month’s end.

If Gary Phillips’ current schedule holds, he’ll alternately produce episodes of “The Underbelly” and “Citizen Kang” until next spring, when the former serial ends and he can turn more of his attention to the expectations and rascality surrounding Representative Kang. Sounds like a busy schedule, but with fun results.

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