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Ticket to Hollywood (Asphalt Warrior) Paperback – November 28, 2012
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"(Gary) Reilly is a master wordsmith. All of Reilly's books provoke me to laugh out loud--and I am not easily provoked." - David Willson, book reviewer, Vietnam Veterans of America
"What if the gloomy 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer drove a cab in Denver? What if Schopenhauer, crossed with Maynard G Krebbs (you do know who that is, don't you?) by way of comedian Steven Wright, chased fares in the Mile High City? You'd have this book." - Barry Wightman, author of Pepperland
"Fans of Reilly's quips and jabs and his evident love of classic movies will find much to enjoy here." - Westword book review by Alan Prendergast
"This book is enormously funny and leaves you wanting to spend more time with the grumpy and sarcastic but very likable protagonist." - Reader's Favorite web site
About the Author
Gary Reilly was born in Arkansas City, Kansas. He spent his early years in Kansas and Colorado in a large Irish-Catholic family-seven brothers and sisters. The family moved to Denver where Gary attended parochial high school, graduating in 1967. He served two years in the army, including a tour in Vietnam as a military policeman. After discharge, Gary majored in English at Colorado State University and continued studies at the Denver campus of the University of Colorado. All along, his overarching ambition was to write fiction. His first published short story, "The Biography Man," was published in The Iowa Review (Vol. 8, No. 4) in 1977. At the time, Robert Coover was the fiction editor and T. Coraghessan Boyle was a contributing editor. Other contributing writers in that issue were Ian McEwan and Ron Hansen, among other luminaries "The Biography Man" went on to get republished in The Pushcart Prize anthology (Vol. IV). That was the last time Gary Reilly was ever published--in his lifetime. But that's not because he stopped writing. Gary went on to write 25 novels, several based on his army experiences. While he wrote both serious and genre fiction, his greatest invention was the character, Murph, a likable, bohemian Denver cab driver. Starting with The Asphalt Warrior, Gary cranked out eleven Murph novels. His dedication to writing did not include self-promotion. Instead of seeking agents and publishers, he focused on his craft, writing and rewriting, polishing to perfection. He wrote well over 25 novels before he thought he was ready make his work public. Unfortunately, he passed away in March, 2011 before he could realize that dream.
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Top Customer Reviews
Book Info: Genre: Comedic mystery
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Anyone who likes to laugh
Trigger Warnings: Excessive laughter? You know, if you have a weak bladder or something you might want to be careful.
Disclosure: I received an ARC e-book copy of this book from JKS Communications (the author's publicist) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: In "Ticket to Hollywood", the second of 11 comic novels about Denver cab driver Brendan Murphy, a.k.a "Murph," a young woman on the way to a showing of The Great Gatsby leaves her purse behind in Murph's Rocky Mountain Taxi Cab #127--and then goes missing. Murph finds himself confronted by police and loses his job. He becomes entangled with filmmakers and makes his way to Los Angeles in search of the lost woman and in desperate need to restore his reputation and regain normalcy, which in Murph's case means doing as little as possible. Ticket to Hollywood follows the June, 2012 debut of "The Asphalt Warrior". The first volume of Murph's adventures rose to #3 on The Denver Post bestseller list.
My Thoughts: This book was hilarious. Murph was a wonderfully fun character, full of wisdom and wisecracks and strange, random thoughts that cause startled outbursts of laughter. This review will consist to a huge degree of quotes from the book, which I think will do a much better job of expressing exactly why it was I loved this book than all the nonsense I might babble. For instance:
Murph on work:
"I hate competition. It's one of the seven warning signs of work. I've spent most of my life trying to figure out ways to make money without working. I don't know what I could do to get money besides driving a cab, except robbing banks. Both occupations have their pros and cons. For instance, bank robbery isn't quite as dangerous as cab driving, but it pays better. "
"My fake weekend has begun. I always take Tuesday off, unless my rent is due and I need to pick up some extra cash. I always take Thursday off, too. I have two fake weekends and one real weekend per week. Sometimes I wish there were eight days in a week just so I could squeeze in an extra weekend. But we all have our crosses to bear."
...like I always say, "Now is as good a time as any to start not doing things."
"I wandered the sidewalk watching all the street performers doing their juggling acts, playing their musical instruments, busting their asses to avoid work. I liked that. But I wanted to tell them there were easier ways to avoid work, like cab driving. "
"That was how I was going to get things back to normal--by working. I never thought I would use the words "working" and "normal" in the same sentence, but I'll try anything to avoid facing reality."
Murph on writing and writers:
"I have completed and uncompleted screenplays, but they both fall into the category of "unsold." I've seen quite a few movies where the screenplays seemed to be in the "uncompleted" category yet still got sold and made into movies, so I generally refer to all screenplays as "sold" or "unsold." But that's just my own filing system."
"Writers, even unpublished writers, have a tendency not to notice what's going on around them when they are the center of attention."
"Most of the ideas I've gotten for novels or screenplays have occurred to me while I was either shaving or taking a bath. A number have occurred to me while I was driving 127. I rarely get ideas when seated in front of my typewriter, which I find ironic because I have always suspected that typing somehow plays a key role in writing."
"It's a funny thing about writing. You get so balled up in a story idea that you lose your perspective and forget that human beings might read your words someday."
"My imagination was running amok again. Twice in one night. This never happens when I'm sitting in front of a typewriter."
"My big dream back then was to buy an IBM Selectric. I still have that dream. I really ought to buy a word-processor. Half the cabbies at Rocky own computers. They tell me they can write failed novels ten times faster on a PC."
"I was through with screenwriting.... I figured it was time to stop fooling myself. I was no screenwriter. I was going to stick with novel writing..."
Murph on LA:
"I was in the land of fakes and frauds and phonies--I felt like saying "Howdy cousin," to everybody who walked by."
"I expected Los Angeles to be slick and modern, but overall it had a rundown look and feel to it. Sort of like Denver. Sort of like every city in America I've lived in, except San Francisco, which looks cool."
"The clerk was... a young man with a goatee and an earring, both on his chin."
"I was driving pretty much the way everyone drives in LA, like elephants dancing on each others' backs at a circus."
Murph on dating:
When I was a teenager, most fathers tended to go berserk when I asked their daughters on a date.... I discovered that all fathers go berserk when their daughters start dating. I have to assume this was because all fathers were once teenagers at some point in their lives, so they had no illusions about whether or not the boys were "up to something."
"She looked confused. She looked off-balance. That's a technique I employ to get dates, and it always works."
I have a lot more quotes highlighted, and accompanying comments, but I think that's probably enough. I hope that gives you a good idea of exactly why I enjoyed this book so very, very much. As I finished reading it, I gave one last chuckle and had a huge smile on my face, if that tells you anything about how very much I enjoyed this book. I absolutely must have my own copy of the first book in this series, The Asphalt Warrior, and I will definitely be watching for additional books in this series. Highly recommended to folks who enjoy a good laugh!
While you're visiting my blog, see also my tour stop for the "Ticket to Hollywood" blog tour, presented by JKS Communications.
Brendan Murphy begins his shift determined to stick to his primary rule of cab driving - never get involved in the lives of your passengers. His monumental failure to observe his own dictum begins when he picks up a tipsy young woman in a Roaring Twenties flapper costume at her Capitol Hill apartment for a ride to a screening of "The Great Gatsby" at the Mile High Film Festival. When Murph tries to engage her in conversation about Fitzgerald's work (angling for a better tip, of course) she informs him, "I've never read a novel. I'm an actress."
He calls it a day after dropping her off downtown, but when he turns in his car at the motor pool Murph notices that the ersatz flapper left her purse in the back seat. He discovers a wad of hundred-dollar bills in it and embarks on a futile act of kindness that leads to a tense encounter with detectives from Missing Persons, suspension from Rocky Mountain Cab Company, and an uncomfortable meeting with a Denver millionaire at his Eighth Avenue mansion.
Thus begins a byzantine journey that takes Murph to a "film ranch" east of Denver, a phony audition, and a mission to kill the dream of a naïve aspiring actress, a dream as inaccessible to her as the green light on Daisy Buchanan's dock was to Jay Gatsby.
Murph's a philosopher hiding in a taxicab. He has advice for artists ("Inexperienced artists usually save money talk for last, often in bankruptcy court") and thoughts about coming up with fresh ideas for a script ("It's like wandering around with a big magnet in a room full of wood"). But beneath all the humor, we sense that Murph is haunted by his own failures as a writer. Maybe that's why he becomes obsessed with saving Alicia Hightower from herself. If we ever catch a ride in his cab, perhaps we can ask. But then as Murph says, "a taxicab is a terrible place to have an epiphany."
Once again, Gary Reilly proves his mastery of language, crafting Murph's musings into memorable quips and asides that evoke both chuckles and nods of affirmation from the reader while he spins another outrageous tale of a good deed gone terribly wrong.
Gary Reilly died in 2011, leaving behind dozens of unpublished works. His will gave Denver author Mark Stevens and former Denver Post editorial cartoonist Mike Keefe the right to publish them. His friends brought Reilly's first Brendan Murphy novel, "The Asphalt Warrior," to market in June, 2012. It rose to #3 on the Denver-area bestsellers list. "Ticket to Hollywood" debuted December 3 and shot to #2 among best-selling fiction in the Denver area in its second week of release.
Brendan Murphy, a taxi driver in Denver has a set of rules he lives by while driving a cab, one of which is never get involved with his passengers. Unfortunately, that's usually the first rule he breaks. And it always leads to trouble. Picking up a fare, the young girl is attending the Mile Hi Film Festival, and dressed like a flapper from the 1920s. She looks 18, and tipsy on vodka. It's none of his business until she leaves her purse in the back seat containing a roll of hundred dollar bills. It's time for Murph's shift to end, but he wants to find the girl and return the purse. Circumstances intervene, and before the case is over, the girl comes up missing, is found, and then disappears again - to Hollywood.
The character of Murph is a fascinating individual who can't seem to help himself in getting involved when someone is in trouble. After struggling through seven years of college, he feels his true calling is driving a taxi, though he has a dream of becoming a novelist some day - and has the rejected and uncompleted manuscripts to prove it. Each story is told in a literary style, with a simple plot and interesting character. Murph eats hamburgers three times a day, his breakfast entails Twinkies and a Coke, and he lives on the top floor of an apartment building he called his crow's nest, because he can see across the rooftops of Denver. Instead of gun battles and fistfights, Murph throws philosophical advice to all of his passengers. A wonderful read.
The cover art for the Asphalt Warrior series is also quite interested. Done in a retro style, they feature the taxi as the commanding figure within the central scene. "Ticket To Hollywood" has my favorite cover so far, but they are all good. The art is by John Sherffius, and the cover design is by Rebecca Finkel.
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