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Phillip Hurst's book is a collection of literary essays that details roughly 15 years of his life.

COURTESY PHOTO - Lake Oswego resident Phillip Hurst recently published his first book, "Whiskey Boys."Lake Oswego resident Phillip Hurst was slated to become a lawyer in Illinois, but during his last year of law school he caught "the writing bug."

"It sort of overtook my legal studies — for better or worse," said Hurst, who shortly thereafter decided to move out west to write and tend bar. Hurst says rather than studying for the bar exam, he started practicing pouring drinks behind the bar.

"I just didn't look back," he said.

And it seems like Hurst's decision is paying off. Bauhan Publishing {obj:58672:released} Hurst's book "Whiskey Boys" in October, which covers about 15 years of his life.

"It kind of reads a bit like a traditional memoir, because it's told from my perspective," he said.

Hurst grew up in a small town in Illinois and studied political science at Illinois Wesleyan University before studying law at Northern Illinois University. While he graduated with his law degree, Hurst failed to pass the bar exam. Instead of retaking it, he decided to work on his writing career.

Since then, Hurst has worked as a bartender in several locations including California, Wyoming, New Mexico, Washington, Hawaii and Oregon. Meanwhile, he received his master of fine arts degree in creative writing at New Mexico State University.

"The book uses those travels throughout the U.S. to talk about a lot of different things, including the struggles of writing ... the struggles of trying to grow up and mature," Hurst said.

Now Hurst resides in Lake Oswego and teaches creative writing workshops and research-based composition courses at Portland Community College, while also bartending at West Linn's Five-0-Three restaurant. COURTESY PHOTO - Phillip Hurst's new book follows about 15 years of his life as he transitioned from the path to becoming a lawyer, to bartending and writing.

"Whiskey Boys" includes a number of essays that were published individually in literary magazines. When Hurst realized the essays had recurring themes, he decided to rearrange the work and form it into a book.

"It's a book that's a nice mix of sort of the fun parts of reading a memoir, where you get to feel like fiction, but it also has elements of history writing, philosophy writing and writing about literature that might appeal to people who don't necessarily read this type of nonfiction," Hurst said.

Hurst is now working on two other books that he hopes to publish next year: one novel and one nonfiction book.

"I feel very humble about it," Hurst said. "It takes a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of time, (and) a lot of other people help you with your writing."


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