Binding

Auto Erotica

Stacia Saint Owens

 

Synopsis:

         A neurotically jealous band of celebrities’ children abandons one of their pack in the desert. A recovering nymphomaniac plots to kidnap her daughter from a religious cult she deems embarrassingly bland. A stage mother starves her daughter into permanent pre-pubescence then uses her to perpetrate a child abuse scam. Two call girls who operate as a fake twin act suspect each other of murdering their johns. On the dark fringes of Hollywood’s sparkling glamour live the eternal strivers, the unsung unknowns whose unquenchable ambition and ambivalent compliance in their own exploitation fuel America’s dream factory. Set in the modern disengaged sprawl of Los Angeles, the characters are connected by their internal tangle of deluded grandeur and wrenching resilience. The heroines give a contemporary voice and fully-rendered consciousness to the mysterious, dangerous, devoid-of-inner-life femme fatales who have long been central to the city’s identity through their shadowy roles in the classic L.A. tales of Nathanael West, Raymond Chandler, Charles Bukowski, and Bret Easton Ellis. Auto-Erotica is a black valentine to the city of angels.

ISBN: 978-1-60489-025-9 Trade paper $15.95     Sale: $8.00

ISBN:  978-1-60489-024-2 Library binding $26     Sale: $12.95

160 Pages

About the Author: 

Stacia Saint Owens holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University, and a BFA in Theatre with a Playwriting concentration from Southern Methodist University. While at Brown, she was awarded the university’s Weston Prize in Writing. A former Lecturer in English Literature at Harrow College in London, she now resides in Los Angeles, where she is writing a novel. Her favorite book is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, her favorite writers are Flannery O’Connor and Vladimir Nabokov, her favorite living writer is Salman Rushdie, her favorite newcomer is Sarah Waters, and she owes it all to L. Frank Baum’s marvelous Oz series.

 Excerpt From the Book:

AUTO-EROTICA

Unruffled wouldn’t be the word for him since there is nothing on him that could get ruffled. Nothing to stand on end and need smoothing down. Entirely streamlined: dark hair shorn close to the skull, placid un-sunned skin lacking identifying marks, expensive clothing in neutral colors and crisp lines, the intentionally indifferent mode of dress that only men of innate style can carry off. A gaze so direct that if he dozes off, his pupils are in the same place when he wakes up later, focused with the same intensity, no split second of messy grogginess. He only dozed off once. He always smokes a single cigarette afterwards, taking his time in such an un-self-conscious way that he has to be European. I secretly hope he’s German, as I have a thing for Germans, based upon one pathetic fling in college, which even now I re-evaluate in my head from time to time, trying to find the correct equation of open-heartedness and catty feminine wiles that would have held his interest. I admire the German belief in right answers. It’s very like math, which is my forte. Statistically, there aren’t enough Germans here to make it worth my time to look for one.

I can’t tell if he’s German because we’ve agreed not to speak. If I could speak to him, I’d have told him that I don’t let people smoke inside my house. Frankly, it’s nicer this way, with him lingering. He never showers after, and I let myself think wishfully that his acceptance of stickiness and bedroom stench on his otherwise impeccable form is somehow a compliment to me.

Following a non-uniform interval of time, he gently stubs out the cigarette on the sole of his Italian oxblood loafers. He gets dressed in the same languid manner, and pecks me on the lips in a gesture he manages to make far more frigid than a handshake. His car is small and sporty and aerodynamic to a fault and grey of course, the least needy and most curve-conscious color. He tears out of my drive in a conspicuous show of acceleration which makes me believe that he, too, works for himself. I worry about the neighbors’ impressions of his lunch hour visits, until I remember that I am in L.A. and the neighbors are busy manipulating their own affairs, stacking toxic combinations of people in outrageous circus pyramids. I can almost hear the hurdy-gurdy urging us all on.

            I spend a  week scouring antique shops for the perfect modernist ash tray to put beside my bed, rectangular and orange and would be miffed if you told it that it was utilitarian as well as handsome. It is the sturdiest thing in my house. I stare into its blank base, willing the week to subtract some of its days so he will return sooner. The yawning receptacle makes me yearn. I’m  not used to wishing for uncertainties. The ash tray is a set-up. My first act of betrayal.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Iris is one of the smart ones. More friend than client at this point, I think, but it’s always some nebulous combination of the two, never a neatly balanced six of one, half dozen of the other. You never hear that expression in my crowd. It’s not Yiddish. Iris is paper doll petite and dusky and sparkling and delightfully pushy. She produces studio movies, but her family’s been rich on the East Coast for a long time, so she understands money. I copy her clothes without ever asking her where she got them or which designer. I don’t replicate her look well enough for her to notice, but that is due only to my fashion incompetence and much larger frame.  We must be friends, because when we talk, we end up complaining about men.

            “Honey, you’re BRILL-yant. What do you want with a boyfriend? They’re trouble. They eat your energy.”

            “Yeah, well, at this point, I’ve got plenty of excess energy, if  you know what I mean.”

            “That’s why they call L.A. the auto capital of the world.” She toasts me with her third cappuccino. Even the dark bags under her eyes seem to twinkle, seem to be part of a perfectly-conceived costume. It’s the same quality that makes dapper middle aged men attractive. Unheard of on a female. She dazzles me.

            “Auto capital? You mean choose a man by his car?”

            “Car, schmar.” She takes me straight to Drake’s on Melrose, conducting a script meeting over her cell phone while holding up samples from the vast array of vibrators and dildos hanging on the wall. The display of members looks clinical yet disorderly, with the plastic bags and not-quite-matching groups, like finds from a dig which are catalogued as well as can be, but still puzzle the archeologist.

            I settle on something largish and sleek and metallic called The Silver Bullet. Iris “uh huh”s  sagely into the phone, then covers the mouthpiece and whispers to me, “Auto-erotica.”

 

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