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BOOKS & AUTHORS / ORANGE COUNTY

Casting Hollywood as a Player : Mark Axelrod of Tustin Weaves Novel, Screenplay, Film Treatment

August 30, 1994|DENNIS McLELLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tustin writer Mark Axelrod's new book is a unique blend of novel, screenplay, film treatment and teleplay.

Billed as a "feature novel," "Bombay California: or Hollywood, Somewhere West of Vine" (Pacific Writers Press; $14.95) chronicles the exploits of Oliveira Katz, an Argentine American novelist who moves from Buenos Aires to "Bombay" to become a Hollywood screenwriter.

With the help of a "bona fide screenwriter" from Chile, Katz has learned how "to lose my Latin sensibilities to things that were socially redeeming, culturally redeeming, culturally enriching, historically accurate and humanistic. In short, he taught me how to write what Hollywood wanted."

Of his literary and cinematic stew, Axelrod, 48, explains:

"The film treatment within the novel deals with American folk heroes. The script deals with the tribulations that a new screenwriter has in Hollywood. And then, of course, the novel itself deals with the same kinds of things as far as getting work read, meeting people and all those other things that go along with trying to sell scripts."

And the teleplay about a sports show called "The Great American Shootout" at the end of the novel?

"I tried to do something within the teleplay which draws attention to things like gun control, or the lack of gun control and taking it to absurd extremes," says Axelrod, who teaches comparative literature at Chapman University in Orange and also directs the university's screenwriter-in-residence program,

Axelrod's writing credits include a number of short stories that have appeared in the Iowa Review and other journals and a book of literary criticism, "The Politics of Style in the Fiction of Balzac, Beckett and Cortazar."

But Axelrod, who also has a handful of unproduced screenplays to his credit, has no plans to write a sequel to his somewhat schizophrenic "feature novel."

"I think it kind of exhausts the genre," he concedes. "I don't think I could do it again. The way the book was being written, the screenplay and teleplay kind of lent themselves to what I was doing in the novel: I wanted to write a novel in which both the content and the context was film--the content being the story of the screenwriter, and the context how that story is going to be told."

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For 20 years Louisa Arnold of Costa Mesa has been writing humorous poems about the on-court experiences of fellow tennis players. The Newport Beach Tennis Club where she plays publishes her poems in its monthly newsletter. And for years members have cut them out, put them up on their refrigerator doors and sent them to friends.

Arnold, a former actress who has been writing poetry since she wrote delivery instructions to the milk man in verse as a child, says she got so tired of hearing, "You've got to put these into a book" that she finally did just that.

Hiring a professional illustrator, she and her husband, Phil, have self-published "Tennis Ticklers" (Tengo Publishing; $16.95), an 81-page hardback book featuring about 40 of her poems, each accompanied by a cartoon.

Fourteen of the poems are labeled WHY IS IT . . . ?" Here's a sample:

"My practice serves are perfect . . . .

I am proud of every spin.

WHY IS IT that I use them up

Before the games begin?

Not often do I double fault

But here's the woeful catch . . . .

I save them for those special points

That make me lose the match!"

Says Arnold: "People phone me and say, 'I know you wrote that whole book for me.' And that was my goal. I don't use anything that couldn't apply to just absolutely everybody."

"Tennis Ticklers" is available at Forty Love in Fashion Island Newport Beach, the Balboa Bay Club, Martha's Bookstore on Balboa Island, the Newport Beach Tennis Club, A Fine Affair in Newport Beach, Cal's Camera and Cal's Caddy Shack in Costa Mesa and all Newport Beach Public Library branches.

Arnold will sign copies at Martha's Bookstore, 308 1/2 Marine Ave., Balboa Island, from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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Martin Brower, former public relations director for the Irvine Co., has written an unauthorized 50-year overview of the development of the Irvine Ranch.

"The Irvine Ranch: A Time for People," published by Orange County Report of Newport Beach, picks up the ranch story in the mid-1950s when the sprawling ranch in the heart of Orange County began to be developed.

The 100-page, soft-cover book tells the ranch development story from the standpoints of the the Irvine Co.'s seven presidents and single active chairman--from Myford Irvine to Donald Bren.

Says Brower, editor and publisher of Orange County Report, a monthly subscription newsletter covering Orange County trends: "This is neither a detailed history nor a planning textbook; it is a brief overview based on my conversations with most of the past presidents and chairmen of the Irvine Co., with other company executives and what I observed as an insider for 12 interesting years."

The book ($18) is available by mail from Orange County Report. For information, call (714) 720-8414.

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