Hasn’t the first of the month come by so quickly? This month I’m reviewing Charles Bukowski’s Hollywood and, once again, for a short amount of time you lucky ducks can pick it up from The Book Grocer in Northcote for only $10!
Happy reading xx
“… I want to finance your screenplay. I’ve read your work. You’ve got a marvellous sense of dialogue. I’ve read your work: very filmatic.”
The words that every writer wants to hear and what better words to sum up Bukowski’s novel Hollywood? Laden with Bukowski’s indulgent knack for dialogue, every page of his book sounds with a cinematic confidence.
When we meet Chinaski (Bukowski’s alter ego) he’s a booze addicted writer living in Hollywood who throws caution to the wind (against the advice of his concerned partner Sarah) and lives for the moment. When we leave him at the end of the novel, he’s pretty much the same.
Hidden among the cigars, crazed Frenchmen and vodka shots of this book is a yoyo-ing plot about a film script that Chinaski is working on and the attempts that are made to take it to the big screen. Punctuated by disturbed actors, demanding directors and declining loyalties Hollywood gives us an insider’s perspective of the circus that is the film industry. On page 7 the film’s on, on page 9 it’s off and then, what’s that? It’s back on by page 10!
Heavily autobiographical (the book is about Bukowski’s experiences writing Barfly), the book is a candid and black account of the workings of Hollywood at their sordid best.
From a similar school of writing to Kerouac and Miller, Bukowski’s observations are astute, language direct and humour dark – all of which together make for an entertaining and page turning read.
Does the screenplay get written? Does a movie get made? You’ll have to read Hollywood to find out. In the end, though, it doesn’t actually matter because it’s Bukowski’s talent for dialogue and his offensively accurate parodies of Hollywood’s best (or worst) that make this book the cult gem that it is.