Fiction Fest: Another bite of Kevin Hopkins’ ‘Skylight’

Skylight 2x3 WEBAlthough “Skylight” is Kevin Hopkins’ debut novel, he’s no stranger to writing. He’s written several nonfiction books and comes with an impressive U.S. government resume.

He is the director of energy and environmental research for The Communications Institute, a Los Angeles-based think tank. He previously served as director of the White House Office of Policy Information, where he advised the President of the United States on economic, energy, and environmental policy, and also was senior policy counsel to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. He has published several books on U.S. economic and social policy, including “The Catastrophe Ahead” and “Poverty and Welfare Dependency,” and served for 20 years as a senior contributing editor to Business Week magazine.

“Skylight” is available in bookstores and from online retailers.

EXCERPT:

I think Alison is surprised when I’m standing outside the stadium to meet her later that afternoon. I’m surprised too, but for a different reason. She arrives in an automobile, something I haven’t seen this close up in a long time. I thought they were permitted only for emergency situations and visiting dignitaries.

I can’t imagine that either description applies to me.

The car is a Cubic, a tiny box-shaped import designed more for profit than comfort. It’s a sparkling azure blue, its only embellishment the emblem stenciled on either door. A pair of stylized hands—one white, one black—clasped together atop the scales of justice. This is the seal of the Los Angeles Citizens Council, the new governing body for Los Angeles and the surrounding counties. It is where Alison works. And where I would be working too if I had stayed on.

As the car slows to a stop, I climb inside. Alison gives me a long and probing glance, and I realize that I must be failing inspection again. even cleaned up, I look little better than a vagrant.

“See, you’re back to normal already,” she says after a moment, and I’m grateful for her lie. This time, at least, I tried to look decent.

“I’m glad you think so,” I say as she sends the Cubic sputtering from the curb. It’s an odd feeling, being transported again by some force other than my own. “How’d you manage this? I thought they’d been outlawed.”

A conspiratorial grin. “They have been. For most people.” “You must be pretty important.”

She laughs. “Not me. You. I wouldn’t qualify for a skateboard.”

She’s silent for a moment and lets the comment settle in. I can tell that she’s still nervous in my presence. But it doesn’t take her long to start talking again, in the breathless run-on cadence normally reserved for new loves and moments of sheer terror. “everything’s changed since you were there,” she rushes on. “You wouldn’t believe it. The whole city looks up to Fran like she’s some sort of god. I mean, here she is, a year ago, not even a third-rate bureaucrat in a city office no one had ever heard of. now she runs the place. not just the office.

The whole city. And erthein’s gotten to be such a pain in the you- know-what. I mean, he was always that way. But now he’s got the title to go with it. And Rooker, well, he just strolls around like—”

She stops as she catches me eyeing the gas gauge. “Oh, don’t worry,” she quickly adds. “It uses hydrogen.” A beat, and then the grin again. “Even Fran wouldn’t push her luck that far.”