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Hot Properties

Hot Properties

by Rafael Yglesias
     
 

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An irreverent satire of New York’s media world—and its influence and allure

Writers Tony, Patty, Fred, and David all know what they want: renown, glamour, wealth, recognition. They know where to get it: New York, a beacon for ambitious novelists, playwrights, and journalists. But what they don’t know is that the game is changing. This is

Overview

An irreverent satire of New York’s media world—and its influence and allure

Writers Tony, Patty, Fred, and David all know what they want: renown, glamour, wealth, recognition. They know where to get it: New York, a beacon for ambitious novelists, playwrights, and journalists. But what they don’t know is that the game is changing. This is the 1980s, an era of massive corporatization and commercialization in the business of arts and letters. Fame and fortune may come quickly for many, but dignity and lasting influence are in short supply. Rafael Yglesias’s most sharp-tongued satire, Hot Properties exposes the greed, envy, and backbiting in a media world bloated with money and power. This ebook features a new illustrated biography of Rafael Yglesias, including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Touted by the gossip columns as a roman a clef about the publishing world, Yglesias's fourth novel has definite commercial potential, since there are always people who like to read sordid tales about the media. Focusing on a group of ambitious, opportunistic New York yuppies, each desperate for success, power, fame, money and glamorous sexual partners, Yglesias follows his characters as their aspirations flourish or fade. And even for the one person who comes up with a smashing bestseller, happiness is an elusive emotion, banished by inner fear and self-loathing. The leading players in this fermenting brew are introduced in the book's opening scene, a dinner party so exquisitely awkward that even the reader is embarrassed. Thereafter we watch an aspiring playwright sell out to Hollywood; a sexy blonde discover she can really write, but must use her body to assure publication; a blocked novelist lose his scruples, professional and personal; a journalist at a leading newsmagazine realize that his way to the top has been sabotaged by office intrigue. Yglesias views his characters with cynicism, but he knows how to create the dramatic momentum that will have readers turning the pages. And if his book does become a bestseller, he will have the ironic last laugh. (June 25)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781453205082
Publisher:
Open Road Media
Publication date:
11/16/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
442
File size:
2 MB

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Read an Excerpt

Hot Properties


By Rafael Yglesias

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 2010 Rafael Yglesias
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-0507-5


CHAPTER 1

Fred Tatter's dinner party was about to begin. Invitations had been mailed three weeks ahead of time, making it—apart from his bar mitzvah and his wedding—the most formally schemed event of Fred's life. Indeed, because of the guest list, Fred considered this gathering symbolic of the impending culmination of his life's ambition. Four years ago he had been a dumpy Jewish guy (his own description) who knew a lot about sports. Now he was a New York Writer, all set to entertain an important agent, an editor, and several promising colleagues. He had shucked the dusty green shell of his Long Island background, and gleamed anew in fresh rows of friends and occupation. Armed with his coffee-table spread of cheeses and fish eggs, he felt his incarnation as Novelist was imminent.

Ironically, an afterthought on the guest list—Patty Lane—was the first to arrive. Patty used to work with Marion, Fred's wife, at Goodson Books. They were assistant editors until a few months ago, when Patty was fired in a general cutback. Knowing this blow had come on top of Patty's breaking up with her boyfriend, Marion felt sorry for Patty, and invited her without consulting Fred. Patty's presence might have irritated Fred, especially in her current condition of unemployment (Fred wanted this evening to gleam with success; any tarnish on his guests might dull the general glow), if it were not for her considerable charms.

Marion was busy in the kitchen while Fred brought Patty a drink. She had come a half-hour early—in her state of mind, she tended to mishear things—and so Fred was alone with her, nervously sipping wine while he watched Patty hungrily eat cheese and crackers from the tray of hors d'oeuvres. Fred began to lean forward for the food as well when he discovered an incentive to do so.

He leaned forward in time with Patty: this choreography allowed him a clear view down the front of her pink cotton top. She wore no bra; thus Fred could conduct a detailed inspection of her white slopes. That is, until his vision reached her nipples. There the soft cloth resumed its task of mild disguise. Only when Patty had taken her piece of bread from the coffee table and relaxed back onto the couch did the two hard points her nipples made in the material become the focus of his attention. For Fred, hors d'oeuvres had suddenly become exhausting.

"Are you looking for a job?" he asked, forcing his eyes up: to look at her eyes. That wasn't unpleasant. Patty's eyes were enormous, their color green, their setting moist; she had the bewildered and astonished appearance of an innocent shocked by a corrupt world.

"Oh," Patty sighed. Her eyes strayed to the window. She gazed at the view of the East River. Then she suddenly seemed inspired. "Are there any?"

"Jobs?" Fred said, laughing. "Of course there are jobs. What do you mean?"

"No." She laughed at herself. "I mean, are there any openings? Why don't they fire somebody besides me?"

Fred laughed, delighted by her dizzy and courageous good cheer. Patty leaned forward (reaching for the cheese board) and the forms of her breasts again appeared against the material of her top as she began the movement, gradually billowing out at the neck, until, as her knife sank into the cheese, Fred's clear view of mammary mountainside made him catch his breath. Patty cut a slice and paused, looking up at Fred.

"Fred? Any for you?"

He was speechless.

"No, no." he said abruptly, forcing his eyes away from the scenic route back onto the duller highway of cheese board, coffee table, large standing fern, and dark brown couch. "No one's been fired."

"Fred!" Marion yelled from the kitchen.

"Yes," Fred said instantly. He got to his feet. Patty's eyes widened with surprise at his prompt attention.

"Whoa!" she commented.

"My wife calls." Fred said, and left the room.

She sure has you trained, Patty thought, munching her Brie and cracker. She was famished from her long day's journey, all done on a ration of coffee, cigarettes, and one pastry, the last eaten more than six hours before. But once finished with the cracker, Patty reflected on Marion's married life. Do I envy her? she asked herself. Should I like to work all week and then spend all day Sunday slaving in the kitchen to entertain my husband's friends?

Fred appeared again, looking sheepish, with his arms burdened by a large bag of garbage. Patty laughed but repressed herself when she saw that Fred looked embarrassed and angry. He let the heavy metal door slam shut behind him as he carried out the load.

Men and women aren't meant to be together, Patty decided, and sliced herself a huge piece of cheese. "Jeez," she commented out loud. "I've got to have bigger breakfasts."

"What?" Marion called from the kitchen. And then appeared at the doorway, dressed as if she were going to the office instead of giving a party: gray woolen skirt, a light pink ruffled blouse, a plain gold chain around her neck—a junior executive in drag. However, Marion wore an apron over her business outfit and this contrast made her seem more domestic: a modern Doris Day.

Patty believed Doris Day presented a comical and demeaning image for women; nevertheless, Doris' movies were her favorites as a girl. She wanted to disdain Marion's life, but she felt envy and admiration instead. "I'm eating all your cheese."

"Good," Marion said with Doris Day's cheerfulness. "Do you have enough crackers?" Fred opened the front door. "Yeech," he said, holding his arms out and away from his body while he studied his pants.

"Did it leak?" Marion asked.

"Ow!" Patty said sympathetically.

"I've got to change," Fred said, and disappeared down the hallway leading to the bedrooms.

"I'm sorry," Marion called after him with a worried look. "I didn't see it was torn."

"Those plastic bags are treacherous," Patty said with exaggerated solemnity. "They come apart all over me. My neighbors are used to seeing me outside my apartment covered with garbage."

Patty's gift for making the simplest statement funny through the contrast of her melodramatic language with a deadpan tone was enjoyed without remark by her friends. Marion resented this talent. Patty wasn't wittier, Marion thought, she simply made a clown of herself. Marion was rarely able to make others laugh and yet Patty could keep a room of people amused for hours, effortlessly, merely by discussing the most ordinary and routine events of the day. And, indeed, Marion herself laughed now from the vivid image she got of Patty smeared with trash.

The doorbell cut her short. Marion went to answer it. Patty got up, heading toward the hallway.

"Hi," said the fellow at the front door.

"Hello, Tony," Marion said.

Tony looked cheerfully and expectantly at Patty as he stepped in. He had an air of accomplished sociability: he neatly removed his coat in the same movement with which he entered and kissed Marion on the cheek. Yet there was enthusiasm in the routine—as if to say that although he had stepped into a million living rooms, he could still greet this one brightly.

"Excuse me, Tony," Patty said. "I have to use the john immediately or I'll ruin the rug." Patty turned away and walked down the narrow hallway, past a recessed bookcase (filled, for the most part, with books that Marion had edited, which meant there was a surfeit of exercise and cookbooks), and on past the master bedroom into a small bathroom. There she closed and locked the door. She felt breathless and sat down on the closed toilet seat. She had lied about the condition of her bladder. Patty had felt panic out there in the living room. Presented with Marion, with her plumage of domesticity, proudly showing off her bright-colored apron and dutiful husband (gallant carrier of garbage). Patty felt inadequate. Marion's calm, settled tone, so different from Patty's harassed, eager-to-please party voice, intimidated her. Watching Marion was like getting a phone call from Mother: silent rebuke and disapproving pity for Patty and her screwed-up life were behind the kindly tone and tentative questions.

I have no money, no prospects, no boyfriends, and I hate all the men I meet. Patty recited these facts—she was not discovering them, this had become a daily litany—to herself. Oddly, listing her problems calmed her. They sounded foolish, unworthy of the panic they inspired. Her heartbeat slowed to a regular pace and she could take a deep breath of air that was enjoyable, even though it smelled of ammonia. Across from the toilet was a photograph of Marion's parents. Patty studied it with a detached air. What an odd spot for an icon to parenthood, she thought, and suddenly felt both loathing and contempt for Marion's and Fred's lives. She didn't want to return to the evening outside the bathroom door: a roomful of people sure of what they wanted and in the midst of getting it. Such people, no matter how kind, made Patty feel her life was undisciplined, and she an eccentric and silly person.

Fred had noticed, while he stepped into a clean pair of pants, that Patty had gone to the bathroom. He rubbed his penis self-consciously when he tucked in his shirt and remembered the vista over hors d'oeuvres. He wanted Patty. His teeth ached from the wine he had drunk, but Fred mistook the burgundy's richness for uncontrollable lust. Fred felt the seven years of sexual fidelity to his wife—they had married immediately after college—had become an unbearable burden, as well as an embarrassment. He lied to his male friends on that score. His lies were never direct or detailed, merely a series of unfinished sentences, winks, sheepish grins, and lustful laughs. Fred wrote regularly for American Sport magazine, which meant there were regular trips with basketball and baseball teams. The widespread belief that athletes screw around on the road helped Fred's deceptions.

Even Marion had come to the conclusion that Fred must have participated in at least one "orgy with the boys." Marion lectured herself sternly: men are faithless; a mature married woman (who expects to remain married) accepts these flirtations without comment. In fact, the thought rankled and throbbed with the pain of an untended wound, but Marion rebuked herself for such a provincial feeling. For Marion, feminism's lesson was that men were unredeemable scoundrels. Of course Fred had screwed around on the road.

But he hadn't. The athletes drank with him while they picked up girls, and sometimes a woman would flirt and put her arm in his, even grant him a wet alcoholic kiss. But, in the end, he was passed over in favor of the trainer, the assistant coach, anyone, anyone at all, who was nearby. Fred's chubby face and bulbous nose, his loud laugh and stumpy body, made Fred at times adorable, but never a Casanova. He was faithful to Marion, but, as he told himself, it was the loyalty of a coward and a failure.

Fred stepped out into the hallway and overheard Tony explain to Marion why Tony's wife, Betty, couldn't come.

"You know, Betty's father recently died ? from cancer. Awful. Well, we've neglected her mother terribly since the funeral and she desperately wanted a night out with her only child."

Bullshit, Fred thought, she doesn't like us. On the two occasions Betty had favored Fred and Marion with her presence, she hardly spoke and looked miserable, developing headache and fatigue by eleven in the evening. She's stuck-up, Marion concluded. Marion might have made that judgment out of envy, because Betty's position in publishing was superior to hers. Betty had the title associate editor and got to work on the manuscripts her boss acquired (novels and major works of nonfiction) instead of the cookbooks that were Marion's lot. Fred, regretfully, had to agree with his wife's opinion. He wanted not to: he wanted Betty to like them, because Tony was by far the most successful, glamorous, richest, and influential of the writers Fred knew.

Tony's allure began with his family history, which Fred knew in detail, though Fred had not been told by Tony—it was gleaned from mutual friends. (The few times Fred had tried to provoke Tony into telling the story himself, Tony had answered curtly and then diverted conversation elsewhere.) Tony Winters was the son of Maureen Winters, the celebrated Group Theater actress who had been ruined by the anticommunist blacklist of the 1950s. Unable to work during her prime years, she had had a nervous breakdown (or so everyone said), but returned to acting gradually in the mid-1960's, becoming nationally famous as Aunt Hattie in a series of detergent commercials, and finally, in the mid-1970's, starring in the number-one-rated situation comedy on television. Tony had been raised by her, except (everyone said) for the year his mother was institutionalized. Tony lived with his father that year.

Tony's father only added, in Fred's eyes, to his allure. Richard Winters was the president of CBS's Business Affairs Division, but discussion about him was also barred. "We're not close," was all that Tony would comment.

Tony's reticence added to the general strain on Fred's nerves when in his company. Fred felt they were merely acquaintances, and he wanted to be close friends—he would have called it "best buddies" in high school. Tony, on top of the fame and success of his parents, had the added attraction of having had three critically praised plays produced off Broadway by the age of thirty-two. He was generally thought of as a most promising young playwright, somebody for whom great success was a matter of time, not luck or greater effort. So Fred worked hard on his potential friendship with Tony. He boned up on what plays were grossing well, what Mike Nichols was directing in the fall, all the things that were for Tony the gossip of daily life. For a moment Fred stood in the hall and tried to swallow the resentment Betty's absence made him feel. I have to be charming, he told himself, and walked toward the living room.

En route, the bathroom door opened.

Patty came out and stood in the hall. She looked tentatively toward the living room. She hadn't noticed Fred. Her large green eyes made her look as vulnerable as a confused child. Fred moved toward her.

"Ow," she said, startled by his presence. Her small lips made a circle. They were moist. Fred's vision was in tow to them, will-less and enslaved. The small round mouth was like a flower half-open; its dishabille tempted Fred to explore the partly hidden interior. He put his arms around Patty (she was only an inch shorter than he, so a kiss was now merely an inch away) and awkwardly pressed his mouth against her fluted, blooming lips. They widened as he made contact: instantly he was swimming in them. Her mouth had swallowed his: cavernous and hungry, it became huge; her teeth gnawed at his lips; and she pulled and sucked on his tongue so hard he felt as if it would be pulled out by the roots. Unpleasant though this might sound, he was hard. Instantly! A response from the shameful and sensitive days of adolescence. Violently hard. Erect. Extended. A shaft of weight and power. He was stunned by both events—her elastic, starving mouth, and his astounding physical excitement.

What am I doing? Patty asked herself. I'm not attracted to Fred, she added, squeezing his buttocks in her small hands. Fred's cheeks felt fat and formless. I'd like to get my hands on something decent, she thought, and then wanted to laugh at this peculiarly macho reaction.

"Fred!" Marion shouted.

The kiss ended. Fred thrust Patty against the wall, banging her head.

"Whoa," Patty exclaimed.

"Are you okay?" Fred whispered.

Patty nodded.

"Fred!" Marion called again.

"Wait a couple seconds before you come out," Fred said to Patty as he started to go. "I'm coming!" he shouted back to the kitchen. "That was beautiful," he said in a throaty desperate voice to Patty and then quickly kissed her on the lips. His eyes were shining. "Thank you," he said fervently (to her astonishment), and then walked briskly toward the living room.

"Tony!" Fred said as he entered. His voice was full of enthusiasm, an unconscious parody of Tony's somewhat affected and theatrical speech.

"Hi, Fred!" Tony boomed back at him, his teeth showing, a cigarette waving in the air, with his wrist cocked backward, "it's good to see you. I was just explaining to Marion that Betty couldn't make it."

Fred pouted. He meant his exaggerated facial response to show genuine disappointment and sympathy. "Yeah, I heard. Her mom's not feeling good, huh?"

Tony shook his head. "Betty's mother is young to be widowed. What am I saying? I'm thirty-two, it's time I considered a woman of fifty young for anything, not merely widowhood."

"Yeah, it's rough." Fred said, and continued, his compassion depleted: "Do you want something to drink?"

"Love it. What's available?"

"We have everything." Fred had spent a hundred and twenty dollars that morning to make sure of his boast.

"What are you going to have? I'll go along with you."

"I was going to have red wine. Okay?"

"Terrific."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Hot Properties by Rafael Yglesias. Copyright © 2010 Rafael Yglesias. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Rafael Yglesias (b. 1954) is a master American storyteller whose career began with the publication of his first novel, Hide Fox, and All After, at seventeen. Through four decades Yglesias has produced numerous highly acclaimed novels, including Fearless, which was adapted into the film starring Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez. He lives on New York City’s Upper East Side.


 

Rafael Yglesias (b. 1954) is a master American storyteller whose career began with the publication of his first novel, Hide Fox, and All After, at seventeen. Through four decades Yglesias has produced numerous highly acclaimed novels, including Fearless, which was adapted into the film starring Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez. He lives on New York City’s Upper East Side.

 

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