Matthew Rowland is a Mid-Westerner who came to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment business. After thirty years of filmmaking, he’s now mostly out of the business. But he still lives in Southern California with his playwright wife and their rescue German shepherds.
“Utterly hilarious and highly recommended for pop-culture junkies”
– Kirkus Reviews
Trippy, wordy anti-authoritarian slacker yarn about the hapless heir to a L.A. media empire.
Veteran indie film producer Rowland adroitly taps his professional milieu for his debut novel, in which nothing is what it seems, and absolutely everyone is working an angle or has a pitch. Rowland’s gleeful, speedy prose–full of cinematic flashbacks, telling asides and casual dirty bombs–chronicles the surreal quest of K (King Random Henry, aka "Cur”), who is framed for assassinating his big-wig Dad (aka "Railroad”). All looks black for the young orphan, who must prove his innocence to a pair of inept, ambitious FBI agents and free himself from the clutches of a comic book-style terrorist ring mysteriously known as FLAN. Everyone wants something and usually it’s K’s head. But why did K’s mom commit suicide? Did he really lose his virginity? Who is the Hispanic housekeeper? K’s nihilist pose disappears early on–along with his signature "Why Bother?” T-shirt–but his every step is dogged by a mouthy imaginary friend named Jerry Lewis. Soon things go from merely confusing to serious-silly as each page reveals more of the blackly comic tale–a literary mash-up with enough multi-generational family betrayals, vaunting ambition, hidden agendas and shady plot twists to make even Dickens blush. But that’s the book’s charm. In true La La Land fashion, King Me’s improbable climax–heavily laced with King Lear references–includes both dramatic revelations and shocking reversals, but (almost) everyone lives happily ever after.
Utterly hilarious and highly recommended for pop-culture junkies, checkers buffs, fans of Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein, the French and aspiring screenwriters–and the people who hate them.
Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009
Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010
A key grip trying to write a script gets sucked into a strange conspiracy in this comic crime novel.
Sam Agonistes does his own stunts. Not movie stunts, of course. Just the garden-variety, impulsive, middle-aged dude kind: “Like the time I got up on an overfilled recycling bin to stomp down the cardboard boxes and ended up flat on my back in the driveway....Or the time I decided the best way to get rid of the Christmas tree was to shove it in the fireplace and put a match to it.” A Hollywood grip–turned-screenwriter, Sam has the assurance that if he can simply compose the right script, superstar Shemahn will finance and star in the movie. The only problem? He hasn’t got the slightest idea of what to write. His writer’s block is interrupted by the appearance of a beautiful, much younger woman at his front door. Petunia Biggars tells him that she’s in danger and that he is too, though Sam—wary of a con job—sends her on her way. Sam is already distracted from dealing with his ex-wife and adult children, particularly his son, Atticus, whose anger is keeping him from professional and personal success. A few days later, some men in an SUV bearing Glocks show up, and Sam realizes that Petunia might have been correct. Luckily—or unluckily—Sam may be just the right kind of impulsive man to survive this outlandish Hollywood happening. Rowland’s (King Me, 2009) prose is laden with references to films and the people who make them—appropriate given the protagonist’s line of work. At one point, Sam muses: “Debbie Fisher practically potty-trained my daughter; Gregory Peck was an honorary godfather to our son….You get the picture. Sure, my Ex’s father wasn’t a Westmore—and her mother wasn’t a Salad Sister—but she had a hairstyling pedigree that predated Technicolor.” Some of the author’s stylistic choices, like the absence of quotation marks, make the plot a bit difficult to follow, but the beats will be recognizable to those familiar with fish-out-of-water crime novels. Similar to The Big Lebowski and Inherent Vice, Sam’s tale is a slacker detective story that will likely appeal the most to men of his same generation and cultural reference points.
A gnarly, satisfying caper set among moviemakers in Hollywood.
Page count: 184pp
Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020
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