We like to read what resonates, what touches our own experience and flies up, up and away like a kite, string entwined in our sweaty, gripped fingers. Personally, I enjoy stories about writing and other writers, especially if I recognize the pain.
Boy, did I, in The Holden Age of Hollywood by Phil Brody. Great blurb. Went for it on Nook. (Have momentarily dropped sentence subjects in honor of this stunning author.)
I’ve seen reviews describing THA-of-H as Hollywood to an “H,” the acting/movie development life rolled into a resplendently gritty regurgitated hairball as wet and slimy as the truth.
Fell into it with the dazed joy of discovering a new substance to abuse, one that’s not yet illegal. I’m happy for the “this-is-Hollywood” readers, but for me, THA-of-H evokes the endless trek of the mind-numbing, hysteria-inducing tedium of reading endless reams of gibberish.
Such pursuits may be more noble than pretty, but that is what a lot of us writers do. I’ll explain.
Sam Bateman, the protagonist, is not a writer. His dad was. Bateman’s dad has died and left a drawer full of scripts, screenplays, and an unfinished novel along with a ton of rejection slips. Sam reads his dad’s creative writing and finds it much better than good. He grieves for his father’s aspirations as well as his father’s dog, who also dies.
A good son, Sam buries the mortal remains of both, but not the dreams. He sells everything and moves to L.A. with his dad’s scripts and a plan to get even.
This is where all the great characters come in, including Solitude. Sam sets up shop in the wannabe writers biz (which is probably more lucrative than the sale of horror novels to the general public). He advertises a competition and award and starts reading as hundreds of scripts pour in. The masochism involved will thrill the soul of every writer who has had to teach composition, edit or search for the elusive pearl.
Sam is human. He cracks.
When that happens, he calls the author of whatever screenplay he has been reading, usually at 3 a.m. He introduces himself and says things like, “. . . Now this screenplay of yours.”
“What made you write such a thing?”
“Well I thought it would be great to see the horror genre combined with a buddy action flick.”
“Sounds great. Can you send me that?”
“That’s Dead & Barry. That’s the script you called about.”
“It is? Fuck me if I didn’t get that from what you wrote.”
And much more. It is all brilliant. Loved the legend of Holden. Loved Share. Loved the ending. Loved the middle. Loved the beginning.
Loved The Holden Age of Hollywood if you didn’t get that already.
Okay, here’s one: if you don’t like the F*** word, don’t read it.
But if you are a writer, you won’t mind that word, because it is part of the living human language. If you are a writer of any ambition or perseverance or skill, this a book is for you.
Happy unwrapping! It’s Christmas, Hanukah or Eid when you least expect.