Quarter Life Crisis Website Up

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Quick post: the site for Quarter Life Crisis is up at GetOverCollege.com

Got the book cover, promo video, a synopsis and a sample of the first 50 pages for you all to check out.

Let me know what you think by commenting here or over on the site. Hope you enjoy, and pick up Quarter Life Crisis: A Novel on August 5th.

-PAJr.

A Cure for the Post-College Blues

First off, if you share a single thing on social media today…it probably won’t be this because there are a lot more important things out there.

BUT, if you share MORE than one thing today, please make the video above be one of them. For the sake of humanity and my career (because I like to think those are one and the same) SHARE THAT SHIT! (And ask your friends to share it too).

Alright. About three years ago I was fresh out of grad school with my graduate thesis in hand and no idea what to do next. I knew I wanted to get this thesis (titled Quarter Life Crisis) published but really had no idea what I was doing in that regard.

One day, in my boredom/aimlessness, I decided to make a promo video for the book in an effort to get people interested in it. I had no idea what I was doing, but I wrote a short script, took my parents’ video camera (because, of course, I’d moved back home), started recording, did a bunch of editing, then posted it to Youtube. It was a fun experience that yielded pretty much nothing but me finally being able to say “I’ve got this video thing on Youtube.”

Three years later, after moving around a bunch from city to city and job to job, I find myself here, with Quarter Life Crisis finally coming out (August 5th!). So I decided to revisit this video after having pretty much forgotten about it, and what I realized upon that initial review was:

1) Nobody makes a ten minute long trailer for a book. Except, apparently, my dumbass.

2) Watching yourself on video three years after the fact is awkward and extremely uncomfortable. Like looking at photos from high school. If those photos could move.

So I brought the video into the chop shop, so to speak, edited the shit out of it and came up with something seven minutes shorter that still gives off the essence of what the book is about (I hope).

I’m posting it now in anticipation of not just the book but the book’s website, which should be up and running in the next few days at GetOverCollege.com.

Also, got the final copy of the cover. What do you guys think?

Final Cover 1

Movie Review: Draft Day an Exercise in Unsubtle Filmmaking

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I like to think of each movie that comes out on Fridays as its own living thing, a unique entity, a figurative human being trying to function within the society that is Hollywood and modern film in general. And in that view, there are all types of movies/people out there.

You’ve got the guy who’s really good for nothing and yet thinks he’s amazing at everything. Pretty much every M. Night Shyamalan movie I’ve ever seen (with the exception of The Sixth Sense, which I’m convinced now was a fluke), and I still don’t know who the hell keeps giving Tyler Perry money and cameras. Whoever it is: stop.

Then you’ve got the guy who lacks the confidence to even try to reach the upper echelons, even when he shows an inkling of potential. For some reason, Michael Davis and his 2007 film Shoot ‘Em Up comes to mind, a movie Davis wrote and directed and got Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, and Monica Bellucci to star in. The thing was hilarious and–frankly–fucking awesome with its gratuitous violence (Clive Owen kills not one, but two people by stabbing them with giant carrot sticks) and satirical approach to the genre, yet it’s the last anybody ever heard from the guy.

Rarely, there are the people who are awesome at life and absolutely know it. These are your Scorceses, your Christopher Nolans, your Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams types. The mammoth blockbusters that win awards and audience’s hearts and completely destroy box office records. These are the guys you have no choice but to bow down to, pull out your wallet and fork over the cash with a smile and a thank you.

Then there are the working class types, the movies that are just trying to get by and do the best they can with what they’ve got.

Draft Day was one of those guys, and I appreciate Director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, No Strings Attached), lead Kevin Costner, the writers and the NFL for producing it, no matter how unrealistic it may be (you’re gonna tell me someone made a movie about an NFL General Manager who has his job security threatened on the eve of the most highly publicized and stressful day of the league’s year–a league in which we just witnessed a bullying scandal the likes of which major sports has never seen before–and that movie’s going to be rated PG-13 and be filled with smiles and budding romances and uplifting music and shit?)

C'Mon Man

That said, Kevin Costner is…Kevin Costner. Which is to say he’s commanding, even when he frequently looks like he’s about to have a stroke. Jennifer Garner is extremely effective in her role as salary cap expert and Costner’s semi-plausible love interest, and everybody else (including Diddy–or whatever the hell he calls himself nowadays–as an over-the-top sports agent…basically a modified version of himself) plays the part that you’d expect them to play in a movie that is pretty much a 110 minute long NFL commercial (though I doubt anything as miraculous as these fictional events will happen to the Cleveland Browns in real life).

If you’re a football fan, Draft Day’s a great way to both entertain and piss yourself off when you walk out of the theater and remember–as I did–that we’ve still got four months until the season starts.

If you’re not a football fan, wait until it comes out on DVD.

But then watch it, seriously.

Gotta support the working class somehow.

-PAJr.

Quarter Life Crisis: A Novel Coming August 5th

A Visit from the Goon Squad

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When I was in grad school working on the thesis/novel that would eventually turn into Quarter Life Crisis (out August 5th), there were a lot of books I read that I knew right off the bat would be beneficial for me and the writing endeavor that was QLC.

Books are each their own little muses, and whatever I’m reading while I’m writing is guaranteed to influence that text. So I had a list, and on this list were books that had everything I needed as far as inspiration. The subject matter fit, the narrative tone fit, the overall packaging fit.

Then there were the books that caught me by surprise, usually recommended to me by a classmate or professor.

Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad was not only one of those books, it was probably the one surprise that hit me the hardest. And by hit, I mean this thing smacked the shit out of me.

I initially sat down to read it because a friend told me it sounded like something I would like. When I picked it up and saw it was a book of short stories though, I rolled my eyes. At that point it had seemed like I was reading nothing but short story collections for one graduate workshop or another, two to three hundred page literary mash-ups vaguely connected through theme or some common character (not saying it was a bad thing, but it can get exhausting reading book after book of strictly character-driven prose, especially when you’re the type of guy who admittedly loves watching people jump out of planes and dodge bullets and pull kung-fu moves out of their ass).

A Visit from the Goon Squad initially seemed like one of these collections too. It starts off with a story about a girl named Sasha who is a kleptomaniac, which is one of those type of unique quirks that are supposed to bring a reader into the character’s thoughts and actions and not be so concerned with the plot itself. But what Egan does in Goon Squad surpasses the classification of literary; the characters in this collection are as real as people can be on a sheet of paper, but the overarching plot concerning the music industry and the effect it can have on different individuals at every level–from the aspiring musician to the top-level record company exec–is what kept me reading from story to story.

I haven’t read a collection in a while, and I’ve got to believe that’s part of the reason I haven’t written a short story in a while. But seeing as how Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad helped me in writing my novel, I’d think this would be as safe a place as any to get some inspiration next time I want to tackle shorter prose.

Which is my lengthy way of telling you to check it out, if you haven’t already (which, by all accounts, most people have; Goon Squad won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2010 on the way to taking the 2011 Pulitzer for Fiction, and it’s also being developed into a series on HBO. So…you know…validation. Get to reading).

And once again, pick up Quarter Life Crisis on August 5th.

-PAJr.

Movie Review: Rob the Mob

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I grew up around all types of fictionalized gangsters.

From 90′s hip-hop to Hollywood versions of true stories like Goodfellas and Casino, I spent a lot of time viewing the faces and listening to the voices that represented the underbelly of society, and I gotta admit: I loved that shit. Goodfellas is still one of my favorite movies to this day, and there’s nothing in today’s version of hip-hop that can really come close to 2Pac, Biggie, or the like.

The appeal, though, was always this idea that what we were hearing and seeing was the voice of the oppressed; the dramatized personality traits and actions that were meant to humanize criminals, emphasizing the Robin Hood mentality of taking from the rich and giving to the poor (even when the “rich” weren’t actually rich and the “poor” were just other gangsters).

That said, it’s been a while since I saw a movie that managed to combine the reality of what gangsters do to their surrounding community while still showing us the personal nature of said gangsters. And likewise, it’s rare that a movie manages to do that while still holding on to the vigilante, us-against-the-world mentality that viewers seem to crave so much.

Which is exactly what Rob the Mob manages to do.

Rob the Mob fictionalizes the true story of Tommy and Rosie Uva, a couple madly in love and co-existing in 1992 NYC during the height of the John Gotti trials. Tommy–played by Michael Pitt (Funny GamesBoardwalk Empire)–has recently finished with an 18 month stint in prison when we meet him, and he’s haunted by memories of his father’s interactions with the mob when he was a kid. Combine this with his attendance at the trial of Gotti–particularly during the infamous Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano’s testimonies in which Gravano divulged (amongst other facts) the names and addresses of the mob’s social clubs–and Tommy is suddenly struck with an idea borne of both vengeance and opportunistic greed: let’s rob the mob (hahahahaha that’s the title! …Sorry)

The plot itself is interesting, especially considering this is based on a true story and this modern day Bonnie and Clyde’s method of burglary was so foolhardy as to be supremely entertaining (at one point in the film the audience is notified–after witnessing Tommy ineptly waving an uzi around multiple times with no mask or any attempts at hiding his identity–that our protagonists Tommy and Rosie live three blocks from one of the clubs they’ve robbed).

Rob-the-Mob-MovieBut it’s the acting that really gives this movie a lasting effect. Pitt’s been here before–watch Murder By Numbers with Sandra Bullock to see him play a particularly sadistic teenager–but never in a role like this, with this much power over the viewer’s perception of his character. And in that portrayal he’s stellar, oozing a manic yet quasi-innocent personality type that makes you want to like him even as you’re cringing at his stupidity in the face of the most notorious criminal organization in the country.

But it’s Tommy’s girlfriend Rosie that really steals the show; played by Nina Arianda–who’s making the jump from Broadway to film for the first time after winning a Best Actress Tony Award for her portrayal of Vanda in Venus in Fur–Rosie manages to be both lovable and vulgar, innocent and sadistic, loyal to a fault and ready to roll with the punches.

Aside from the main roles, we also get a particularly despondent and sympathetic performance from Ray Romano as reporter Jerry Cardozo, and the typical simmering furiosity we all expect from Andy Garcia as Big Al, head of the slighted crime family.

Raymond De Felitta’s handling of the material is as straight-forward a directing job as I’ve seen in a while, giving the audience enough time and space from beginning to end to to judge the unfolding events for ourselves, and the result is a tension that consistently rises from the moment you realize what this couple’s trying to do, creating a conflict in viewers between our expectations of how the Mafia would/should react in this situation and our inevitable rooting for this couple’s success. The climactic end–which stands pretty much as an exclamation point on the entire era of both 90′s mob films and the real life events that inspired them–is done so tastefully, with such a consistent emphasis on this couple’s passionate relationship, that walking out of the theater I was actually warmed, in spite of myself (you’ll understand why when you see it, which you should do ASAP).

Rob the Mob is out now, though in a limited release (which explains why I had to drive half an hour to get to the only theater in Miami showing it). But if you have the time and there’s a participating theater relatively nearby–and especially if you’re a fan of mob films and Scorcese-esque dialogue–definitely check it out.

-PAJr.

Buy Quarter Life Crisis: A Novel on August 5th. You’ll regret it a little bit less than what you did last weekend.

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

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I’ve been a prolific reader ever since I was a nerdy little kid with huge glasses and buck teeth sitting in a corner during playtime with the newest Goosebumps novel shoved in my face (add contacts, braces, and twenty years and you get…a thirty-year old nerd with straight teeth and itchy eyes. Voila!)

Ever since I decided to make a career out of writing, I’ve programmed myself to read even more abundantly (about 1-2 books a week right now; 3-4 a week when I was in grad school working on my thesis reading list, which–needless to say–was fucking stressful).

That said, I’m always looking for something that both catches my attention and is in line with the type of stories I like to write.

I have two major passions when it comes to genre: comedy, and thrillers (though by no means are my interests limited to the two. It’s just–I’ll pick Don Winslow over Danielle Steel ten times out of ten. And not because I think Danielle Steele sucks–I’ve actually never read anything by her–but because Don Winslow’s just that fucking awesome).

It’s the reason I’ve mentioned Jonathan Tropper so many times on this blog, have two Stephen-King-related tattoos on my left arm, and can pretty much quote the entire Hank Thompson Trilogy from Charlie Huston.

The book I just finished reading–The Strainis slightly different from what I typically go after, but only in a few minor aspects. The co-authors–Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan–are two people I admire greatly; del Toro for his directing skills (Pan’s Labyrinth is probably the best foreign-language film I’ve ever seen, and Hellboy was just plain awesome) and Hogan for his writing, specifically for Prince of Thieves (which was made into the film The Town directed by Ben Affleck and which immersed me in a Boston bank-robbing lifestyle so thoroughly that I had dreams for days after finishing the novel about sticking a place up myself…not that I’d ever actually do something like that…seriously, it’s just a story…I mean, really…)

The Strain, though, is neither a little girl’s horror fantasy like Pan’s Labyrinth, or a gritty crime-drama like Prince of Thieves/The Town.

Instead, it’s about vampires.

thestrainhuddlestoncovermainNot the sparkly vampires, mind you (despite many pleas to the contrary, I still refuse to read Twilight, and am pretty sure I never fucking will, so STOP ASKING! [throws hardcover Twilight novel out window and hits teenager in the head]).

These vampires more resemble del Toro’s creations from one of his earlier movies, Blade 2, in that they’re anything but human-like, have these crazy-dislocating-jaw-apparatuses, and suck human blood through stingers that shoot out of their throat/mouth.

Definitely not the cuddly sort of neck-biters.

The book is the first in a trilogy, and I’m currently reading the second and third novels right now (The Fall and The Night Eternal respectively). The trilogy itself is being adapted into a TV series on FX premiering this summer, and I’d like to just extend my sincerest gratitude towards del Toro and Hogan for constructing this entertaining read.

For a more complete plot synopsis, check out the book’s Amazon page, but real quick, here’s the rundown: there are vampires created by a virus that’s hundreds of years old, an epidemic of these fuckers taking over Manhattan, an eight foot Ancient Master Vampire bent on dominating humanity, and the book begins with a plane full of dead people sitting creepily alone on a runway at JFK Airport.

You’re welcome.

And, once again, pick up my novel Quarter Life Crisis on August 5th.

Even though it has nothing to do with vampires whatsoever.

-PAJr.

Good Help is Hard to Find. Especially When You’re a Hitman.

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Looking through the archives and came across this story I wrote a while back, published in the June 2012 issue of Writes for All Magazine. It’s called “Good Help is Hard to Find”, and if you’re into psycho hit-men, corrupt priests, crises of faith and dudes with split personalities, you might want to click the pic above and check it out.

Also if you really are into all those things at once, you might want to get yourself checked out too. Crazy ass.

And while you’re at it, pick up my book Quarter Life Crisis: A Novel, out August 5th of this year (as opposed to, like…last year. Or next.)

Happy Monday, y’all.

-PAJr.