Spawned by a pair of movie stars from Hollywood's golden age, the unnamed boy narrator of this indirect and vinegary little book wonders: ""Was there ever so pampered an ass as mine?"" Chuck Connors (pre-acting career) gives him an autographed baseball glove; John Ford suggests a reading list; his best pal is the son of a rich director of schlock-and-shock films; vacations mean Las Vegas or Palm Springs. But pampered ass aside, what the kid's really got is a soul made out of hobnails. Cowboy star Dad and ingenue Mom divorce, tatter, and pale, Pop falling back on his Catholicism and Navy memories, while Mother marries losers and swallows lots of very lost weekends. While O'Brien succeeds nicely in tacking up all the corners of his coolly unfazed and self-possessed narrator, his attention to the other characters depends on a stock it's-all-tawdry-behind-the-tinsel approach to Hollywood, a pathos that's atmospheric but which loses its spirit early. Too many sentences sound like summations, and the book--really a routine family novel with a celluloid backdrop--seems consequently to read like a string with lots of little knots in it: small efforts unculminated.