Culture

A Pulp Writer Disguised as a Lawyer Embedded in the People's Republic of Portland

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Editor’s Note: This is the thirteenth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first eleven can be read in this collection here and the twelfth from yesterday is here. Find out more about Liberty Island’s new writing contest here, running through the end of April. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Ken Lizzi is an attorney and the author of an assortment of published short stories. When not traveling AC/a,!aEUoe and he’d rather be traveling AC/a,!aEUoe he lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife Isa. He enjoys reading, homebrewing, exercise, and visiting new places. He loathes writing about himself in the third person.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

The writers Bernard Cornwell, Glen Cook, and George MacDonald Fraser are major influences, as well as numerous Twentieth Century pulp writers.

Lizzi,-Ken

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

Mostly resigned, sitting on the porch grumbling as I watch the kids ruin the neighborhood.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

P.J. O’Rourke, Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes.”)

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

Embedded in the People’s Republic of Portland.

5. What are your writing goals?

I hope to one day attain the status of the new Robin Masters and allow a slacker PI to inhabit the guest house of my Hawaiian estate.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

www.kenlizzi.net

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

Homebrewing.

An Excerpt from “Sacred Cows” by Ken Lizzi:

Scott and Dennis and a core group of friends had remained in touch after college, their social lives a continuation of their Portland State revelries. Scott nearly married one of the group, Allison–blonde, gregarious, earthy. A little too earthy for Scott’s tastes which ran more to khakis and mutual funds than Birkenstocks and saving the flat-footed grebe. So the romance ended but the friendship remained.

 

To the general amusement of the old gang, Allison over the years had introduced a series of increasingly eccentric boyfriends as her enthusiasms meandered from eastern medicine to preserving the Amazon to vegan cooking. The last had coincided with the introduction of a painfully thin, bearded fellow the group quickly dubbed Ashram Anton, as much for his fiercely-spiced vegetarian curries as his appetite for recreational drugs.

 

Anton ran a vegetarian restaurant on Hawthorne Boulevard. The Sacred Cow was a narrow cavern of a joint wedged between a non-profit women’s interest bookstore and a used-CD shop. A cramped cluster of tables overlooked by hemp wall hangings and yellowed Robert Crumb posters fronted a lengthy kitchen, hidden behind a beaded curtain, where Anton concocted his leafy delights. Allison browbeat members of the group to stop in occasionally. Most of the old gang grudgingly admitted to enjoying a dish or two, with the noted exception of Scott who professed an unreasoning and unchangeable opposition to all things meatless.

 

One evening in January Dennis agreed to meet Allison at The Sacred Cow. They’d remained tolerably good friends, based largely on the amiable Dennis’ ability to reduce the friction between her and Scott during gatherings. On the appointed day Allison rang up Dennis at his office.

 

“Dennis? Allison. Look, can we meet at another restaurant? It doesn’t matter. You decide.”

 

That night at the Bridgeport Ale House, Allison unburdened herself while picking strips of ham and turkey out of her chef salad.

 

“Something is wrong with Anton.” She raised her fork threateningly before Dennis could respond. “No wisecracks. I’m serious.”

 

“OK. I’m sorry. What’s bothering you?”

 

“Anton started serving hamburgers at The Sacred Cow.”

 

“What!” Dennis exclaimed, a forgotten forkful of baked potato raised halfway to his mouth. “Ashram Anton eating meat?”

 

“I didn’t say he was eating it. He’s serving it. Hamburgers anyway.”

 

Dennis resumed eating. He was a hard man to put off his feed. “So? Maybe he wants to expand his customer base.”

 

“I don’t think so. The timing is really weird.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Well, two weeks ago the cattleman’s association held a convention here in Portland. Anton and I joined a protest outside the convention center. Somehow things got out of hand. The anti-fur activists showed up, then the medical research opponents, and then some real fringe elements. Shut up Dennis, it’s not funny. Anyway, the protest escalated until the police showed up. A little pushing and shoving, a couple of rocks and bottles and suddenly it’s the ’68 Democratic National Convention. I get Anton into the Subaru. He took a face-full of pepper spray but other than that he was okay. We drive away, and Anton’s staring through his tears, fixed on the cattlemen standing outside the convention center, grinning and smoking cigars. Next week he’s slapping burgers on the grill.”

 

Dennis had to agree that was a little odd. But as he’d no constructive advice for her, he simply suggested she keep an eye on Anton and keep him informed.

 

A few weeks later, at a housewarming thrown to introduce the gang to Scott’s new riverfront condominium unit, Allison mentioned the case of Mack Sheridan, a wealthy rancher of some local repute (or infamy, depending on one’s view of the chain of ‘gentlemen’s’ clubs he owned), who had mysteriously disappeared. No one had a clear idea when, as Sheridan frequently drifted off on private jaunts without leaving word of his departure. No ransom demands arrived, and not a trace of the man could be found.

 

Dennis found that interesting but hardly conclusive. Then Allison offered the more recent case of Pauline Delacroix, an “edgy” clothing designer from LA who had arrived in the city but apparently did not leave it. Her fall line of knee-length otter-hide skirts had garnered a certain degree of notoriety. Such people are difficult to misplace in a metropolis, but there you have it. Vanished.

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

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image via Liberty Island / Mary Madigan (C) 2014