Monday, July 17, 2006

Mint Fan Alley's Overture

Here are the first 537 words of a sensual, impish novel that is seeking a publisher and readers. This novel is entitled Mint Fan Alley. It follows the struggles of six women who own a nightclub in Hell's Kitchen in the 1990s. They struggle to indulge in the pleasures of Broadway's vaudeville past while the entertainment industry transforms their once-sleazy neighborhood into something more Disneyified and commercial.

After plenty of rejection, I am still pursuing the traditional query process with hope and enthusiasm, but please write to winebowl at gmail dot com if you have any comments, suggestions, or advice for an unpublished-in-print novelist.


Without a doubt, Cyril Digges was the sexiest music man in Manhattan; indeed, he must have put the M-A-N in the word Manhattan. That's why it flattered us to bill him as the featured act at our Hell's Kitchen nightclub. He sounded as good as Sinatra. He looked as bad as Banderas. And he smelled as sweet as danger.

Maybe it would have been wiser if he'd kept his songs off of my jamboozled sisters. But if he had, wouldn't now be indulging in gossip that is as sonorous as impassioned fingers scraping velvet. Besides, how could anyone blame him? He didn't know, hell we didn't even know the severity of the croon damage already done to our minds.

Cyril played piano as if he’d been gifted two pairs of hands from Tommy Flanagan and Thelonious Monk and played the vibraphone as if the spirit of Lionel Hampton stomped all over his pulsators. He also riffed on reeds as if Sonny Rollins could have heard him while meditating in that cave in India. What's more, Cyril sang on the horn as if he could charm Miles Davis into a snake dance on the banks of the Mississippi. To top that, he beat the drums so as to sink James Black deeper into his New Orleans grave. Yeah, Cyril Digges was big enough; he was a one-man-around-the-world band and a lady's man.

I was told that when Cyril Digges made love to a woman, she saw her name in lights.

Now, I ask you: is this true for all men who kick open the door of blameless women's nightclubs? Is it true that they are at once heroic and disruptive?

We wouldn't have known. I mean, before Cyril Digges spewed his symphony into our rough club, we'd never known a man could be so puffed up with song. Sure we'd heard playful whistles from bare-chested guys at Coney Island, but never had a rare talent's arpeggios penetrated our ears. We were only twenty-six years old and all of us, virgins. He came in our club and played 'til everyone shuddered in their crawling skin. Patrons squeezed into the club and then left behind the sweat and rind of their nightfall fashions. The dance floor flooded every night.

What? You don't believe me? The truth. Why get so hung up on the truth? Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned, west-of-Broadway exaggerated realism? The truth is that once upon a time Mint Fan Alley was a club where you could wear the magic hat backwards, kiss the honey off your buddy's skin, and everyone received celebrity salutations. In this cozy room, sextuplet sisters knew how to throw a party where, every midnight, the Law dropped the gilt ball and blew one giant champagne bubble.

Well, please do lean in close because I really shouldn't even speak the saga aloud. I'd rather whisper every word into your ear, tell you under my mint-laced breath, how a cymbal-crashing stud stymied and seduced six cabaret divas, divas who could high-kick higher than any dear ol' Radio City Rockette. You needn't worry; you can lean in even closer; I promise to keep my legs still, but I can't say the same for my tongue.

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