EAR TO THE GROUND by Paul Kolsby


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Hollywood cashes in on the prediction of a catastrophic earthquake in this comic novel by LA insiders Ulin (Sidewalking, 2015, etc.) and Kolsby (a film and TV writer).

Charlie Richter’s grandfather was the guy who invented the Richter scale, and Charlie has followed in his footsteps. He works for an outfit called the Center for Earthquake Studies, whose multimillion-dollar budget is partially funded by the entertainment industry. “If the Big One hits L.A.,” muses an inside source, “the studios will be in on the ground floor.” This proves prophetic when Charlie’s boss leaks his prediction of a massive quake. While the terrified people of Los Angeles make plans to flee, Hollywood movers and shakers hatch plans for a big-budget earthquake movie. This is great luck for struggling screenwriter Ian Marcus, whose dead-in-the-water screenplay, Ear to the Ground, explores this exact scenario: the turmoil created in LA when a catastrophic earthquake prediction goes public. Retrieved from the slush pile by his girlfriend, studio flunky Grace Gonglewski, Ian’s script is sold for $1 million. While Ian heads out to live the life, Grace gets to know her oddball neighbor, who happens to be seismologist Charlie Richter—the one person focused not on profiting from the disaster but preventing it. Will his plan work? Will the movie be completed in time? Will Los Angeles fall into the sea? According to one character, “In the closing chapter of the second millennium, the smart money was squarely on doom,” but don’t give up yet. The book's 39 short chapters originally appeared in the Los Angeles Reader as a serial in 1995 and '96, and period details abound. The death of Jerry Garcia, for example, is mourned by several characters, including both Charlie and the president of the United States.

A fast, high-spirited sendup.

Pub Date: April 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-939419-73-6
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Unnamed Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2016


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