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Lisa Maliga

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Literary Fiction

Copyright:  Dec 25, 2010

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The action within these seven stories takes place in various Los Angeles locations, all the main characters happen to reside south of Sunset Boulevard.

HOLLYWOOD. A name that needs no introduction. Such a world-renowned name conjures up images of movies, sunglass-wearing stars, palm trees, plastic surgery, drug habits, the proverbial overnight success … and the happy ending. In this collection of original short fiction, the author takes us into the minds of an assortment of losers, dreamers, successes, wannabes, and has-beens. A conglomeration of fact and fantasy, the time period ranges from the mid-80s to the present. “South of Sunset” is not just a location ... it's where myth and reality merge. 


Every street begins and ends somewhere. The world famous Sunset Boulevard originates in downtown Los Angeles, right at the edge of Chinatown. West Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, named after a civil rights activist, changes at the intersection of North Figueroa Street. There, it becomes West Sunset Boulevard.

For approximately 24 miles this east to west boulevard rises above the Harbor Freeway, past Echo Park, and Silverlake. Just past the KCET public TV station we see the other legendary cross street of Hollywood Boulevard veering off to the right. Driving over another freeway, the aptly named Hollywood, we journey ever westward. North of Sunset you'll see Hollywood Senior High, attended by Cher, the Carradine brothers, July Garland, Sarah Jessica Parker and many others. Above that looms the HOLLYWOOD sign. Past Guitar Row, a small area known for its guitar stores and other musical related shops. Sunset Strip with a riotous array of billboards overhead advertising upcoming movies, TV shows, music stars and clothing. The Strip is one and a half miles of jam-packed advertising in this notable West Hollywood commercial area. Partially hidden by foliage is the royal looking Chateau Marmont, a renowned hotel where comic actor John Belushi died, and 1960's music icon Jim Morrison partied. Boutiques, restaurants and such notorious nightclubs as The Viper Room, Whisky a Go Go, The Roxy and the Rainbow thrive. This is where the division of north and south is prevalent in terms of real estate. The further north into the hills you go, the higher the price of that estate, villa or mansion. Up there, the privileged homeowners and renters get a superior view of the City of Angels; those wealthy denizens looking down on those so far south of Sunset.

Downhill is the south side of Sunset. You'll see countless apartments, condos and homes. They're packed together as they fade into the vast expanse of Los Angeles. The grid of humanity crowded into housing that contains more people per square foot. The layer of smog casts its shadow over the City of Angels where the hoi polloi work and live. You see fewer swimming pools and tennis courts. Familiar signs for chain restaurants and stores: McDonald's, Jack in the Box, Carl's Jr., KFC…and the Wal-Marts, Kmarts and Targets…all south of Sunset.

Continuing along Sunset you'll see people selling Star Maps along the side of the road, as you head west into the famed city of Beverly Hills. There, the boulevard widens with a grassy center strip. You'll see the hints of luxurious mansions, high walls, tennis courts and pools, looming royal palm trees and the landmark pink Beverly Hills Hotel. Past Beverly Hills, into the Bel-Air region, UCLA, the Getty Center. Along the way you'll see no sidewalks, omnipresent security signs posted; bountiful tropical foliage and high walls keep passersby from staring into these exclusive homes. Barriers prevent us from knowing what goes on behind those walls, beyond those gates. What secrets are being kept inside those exclusive compounds reserved only for the rich and famous?

Hairpin turns and hills slow you down as you get closer and closer to the dramatic end of the boulevard. In Pacific Palisades there are apartments, condos and even a few chain restaurants. But then, you notice the wide, slate blue expanse -- and finally, temporarily widening to eight lanes, is the bustling Pacific Coast Highway. West Sunset Boulevard dead ends at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

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