Like a lot of very tall boys from very small Midwestern towns, Phillip Hurst’s first love was basketball. And while he followed his hoop dreams to college, he ended up setting the school records not for assists or three-pointers, but sprained ankles and torn ACLs. Fortunately, his second love—writing—is considerably easier on the knees.
Post-college, an ill-conceived detour into law school saw him ditch civil procedure and torts in favor of skull-busting works like On the Road and Emerson’s “Self-Reliance,” the sort of incantatory stuff that can really get an impressionable young man into trouble, and this more or less explains how he ended up not practicing law before the bar, but pouring drinks behind one.
He wasn’t just bartending, though; he was traveling the American West—from Portland to a bohemian surf community in San Diego, from a cabin at 7,000 feet in Jackson Hole to an adobe village in New Mexico that smelled of roasting mesquite, then a private Hawaiian island and, finally, the smoked glass and techie-hustle of downtown Seattle. Throughout, he absorbed everything he could and met a lot of strange and wonderful people. Somewhere along this path, he also returned to school for the degree he’d wanted all along—an M.F.A.—and that helped quite a bit. In fact, the rhythm of daily practice and the discipline and stamina required wasn’t all that different from learning to play basketball. But again, easier on the knees.
Regal House will be publishing his darkly comic novel, Regent’s of Paris, which concerns a floundering small-town car dealership in the shadow of the 2009 auto industry bailout. His nonfiction books include The Land of Ale and Gloom: Discovering the Pacific Northwest, which is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press, and Whiskey Boys: And Other Meditations from the Abyss at the End of Youth, which won the 2021 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize and is forthcoming from Bauhan Publishing. His stories and essays have appeared in publications such as The Missouri Review, River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, Cimarron Review, Post Road Magazine, Reed Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review.
Currently, he lives and works in Portland, Oregon, a city of wonderful breweries and outstanding bookstores.