Friday, December 7, 2012

MY NOVELS: Hidden World

My novels never get the credit they deserve.  One of my definitive works, Hidden World, came out nearly 20 years ago, while I was still a teenager. Based on my first hand account of slipping into the 6th Borough one afternoon while tying my shoelace in Queens, NY (I'm still not sure how it happened), the novel was a document of my discovery as well as a (maybe-not-so thoroughly fact-checked) history of the neighborhood known to residents as Zaghaven.

OK, so it wasn't the most legit publishing company that put the book out.  In 1993, Mr. Parfenix had taken
over the printing presses that put out the 6th Borough gazette, and when I agreed to heavily
feature him as a character in the novel, he agreed to publish Hidden World.
For those just tuning in: Mr. Parfenix is my landlord, EX-publisher, neighborhood menace,
supervillain not-so-extraordinaire, and a Pigeon-Man of considerable power, taste, and schematics.
And so: Mr. Parfenix's Parfenix Books was an all-too-commonly corrupt 6th Borough operation.
He claimed that his "distributors" wouldn't be able to sell the book unless we packaged it as a
full-blown sci-fi work.  Beyond that, he demanded that we go for a retro, 50's look.
Yes, the book dabbles in science fiction, some unexplainable phenomenon, even the paranormal.
But Mr. P made it seem like it was about a bunch of space invaders fighting over some Flying Saucer
technology. It was more about the Zaghaven Rumbles of 1982, the strange street games that the kids play
in Z-Town, and about the history of the Candy Factory at the center of the Borough and all its politics.

I know what you're gonna say.  But this is before the whole UFO thing in Zaghaven. 

I left the 6th for a DJ gig in Manhattan one night in 1993, and come the morning, all my usual ways back in were sealed up. I looked for my novel in every bookstore on the Eastern Seaboard. I couldn't find my way back into Zaghaven for the better part of two years, so I couldn't take it up with Mr. P (who still isn't good with returning phone-calls).  For anyone beyond the Z, I was as good as unpublished. Then, in 1995, I was sifting through a thrift store in Jersey City, when, right between a copy of Sniglets and To Kill A Mockingbird, I saw it -- my paperback -- looking old.  

Mr. P still runs the Neighborhood Gazette.

Turns out Mr. Parfenix was distributing exclusively to THE PAST.  He'd found some 6th Borough conduit to 1957 (one of his kitchen cabinets, actually). After he went through the hell of fighting me on my edits, he decided he didn't want to work with any more writers and he wound up just gathering a bunch of sci-fi books from 1958 and re-publishing those. That must have caused some trouble. Luckily, the conduit closed up in about a year -- and too bad for us Mr. Parfenix didn't get trapped in '57.
You can see the the kitchen cabinet in question, to the left, right underneath the clock.
How did I wind up patching it up with Mr. P?  ANSWER: He's my friend!
This wasn't nearly the worst thing he ever did to me and my friends, and I'm pretty sure the worst thing
he's gonna do is still coming.  But it's all sort of charming, in a strange, storybook monster, homicidal maniac
kind of way.