Gary Phillips Mid-City Noir


Who better to profile in the TNN than long time  Mid-City resident and acclaimed local writer Gary Phillips?  It was Phillips’ short story that was chosen to represent the Mid-City section of the best-selling anthology Los Angeles Noir.

Characters from several of his internationally-known novels operate from our area -- peppered with references to places like Oki-Dog, The Cork and the day laborers at Lucy’s drive-thru.  In his blog, Phillips waxes eloquent about Magee’s Donuts, and Pico Boulevard, which he calls “The Boulevard of Desire” typifying how “this city grew in its slap-dash manner . . .  a mélange of auto body and auto repair shops side-by-side with beauty parlors, yoga studios, tropical fish stores, and tony tchotchke shops,” . . . where one can get their “yard bird” on at Golden Bird Chicken.

Phillips seems like the most unlikely and likely person to write successful crime and detective fiction , with two current projects in the top ten Indie bookseller’s list (Los Angeles Noir and Orange County Noir), a favorable review from the L.A. Times, and current book-signing tour.  Growing up in South Central near Flower and Slauson, he read because his mother was a librarian.  While attending Dorsey High, he worked as a security guard at the old Standard Oil building downtown, then studied graphic design at CSULA, learning about the printing business by designing fliers and brochures for “Your Man Tours.”  He also worked as a community activist, still writing for a blog devoted to fair housing.

Preoccupied with football, girls and cars as a teenager, Gary didn’t begin to write seriously till later.  Early influences were comic books, Jules Verne, Andrea Norton. Describing himself as a not particularly disciplined writer, he responds best to deadlines as evidenced by his hundreds of projects.  While known for his gritty fiction with passion and violence, the prolific Gary is also renown for his graphic novels, short stories, articles, and editing (Political Noir and Phoenix Noir).  A new novella, The Underbelly, is out in July, a Vietnam vet’s search for his disabled buddy who’s disappeared from Skid Row.  You might have seen Gary most recently speaking at the L.A. Times Book Fair.

Gary resides with wife Gilda Haas and two college-aged children in Wilshire Vista, buying into the area in 1987 because his bi-racial marriage favored the diverse area, for the Community Magnet School, and for the house’s wide driveway – his mechanic dad always has lots of old cars around.  It goes without saying that the talented writer can speak as intriguingly about the changing landscape of the publishing biz, and his neighborhood, as about his beloved El-D:  “it’s a Shaq of a 1992 Cadillac Eldorado . . . battleship grey on grey, leather power seats, factory air, old school cassette deck in the dash.”

Meet the impressive Phillips at one of his upcoming book signings, posted at www.gdphillips.com/.

 

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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