Near the beginning of the year, I met up with one of our contributors Alec Rojas for a drink at the lobby bar of The Roosevelt. The environment is an interesting juxtapositions of Los Angeleses: it’s gaudy and over the top while being classic and refined. It is filled with locals but also home to many confused crowds from Hollywood and Highland. The place is the kind of local destination that you won’t readily admit to visiting but has a certain magic to it that only the most hardcore of Angelenos will appreciate. It is a fascinating, conflicting local haunt.
The image of The Roosevelt felt particularly fitting for the meeting since Alec was relaying a copy of his new book, Foreign Waters. It’s a noir-ish sci-fi sketch of Los Angeles in the future, one that feels so familiar yet so foreign. It’s a tale of intoxication that may feel alien but stands parallel from the lifestyles many in the city now inhabit. Foreign Waters is the kind of read that makes you question what reality is and if you are doing it correctly.
The book follows notable, competent, yet somewhat fucked up lawyer Roger. He feels akin to the smoke spouting detective but, instead of solving a crime, he is trying to piece together what exactly his life is. You get the feeling that he is constantly passing out, forgetting or not realizing the occurrence of events until another person verifies the happenings to him. You quickly realize that he is a dedicated substance abuser hoping to kick the habit of passive, enjoyable drugs that cloud his memory and make him an evolved victim of Locked In Syndrome.
You find out that his work and relationships aren’t quite as simple as he makes them seem and the city—a hot, Blade Runner-ish version of Los Angeles—serves as a constant third character within the story, a contextualizing and constraining voiceless friend. The book reads easily and moves quickly, thanks to Roger’s easy way of addressing the reader, a first person point of view you find yourself relating to too much. He is by no means perfect and, like his many adjacent female companions, you realize the imperfections are what attract you to him. His attempts to dig himself out and away from them are the basis for the story. Thus, it lands as the beginning of a modern allegory for casual drug using.
You can certainly breeze through the book over a weekend and, in the near future, you’ll be able to get your hands on the sequel to this first effort. You’ll also notice the book features some brilliant cover art by Cory Schmitz. The book is available now on Amazon and you should definitely check it out, to read in a notable Los Angeles environment. It seems like a fitting context for this future leaning book. Like we did for the tradeoff of the book, perhaps you’ll find The Roosevelt to be as delightfully conflicted as Roger is.