A harsh film-industry coming-of-age story.

Glamourville

Coyote (Invaders from the Outer Rim, 2015, etc.) delivers a novel about a young man making his way in Hollywood.

In 1988, Samuel Reuben, an aspiring screenwriter, arrives in Los Angeles. He’s fled his Hasidic upbringing in New York City to enroll in the University of Southern California’s famous film program. Despite his aspirations, it doesn’t take long for him to learn that there’s plenty of darkness in sunny California. He’s mugged and questioned about his sexuality during his very first day on campus, so it’s clear that Samuel’s adventures in LA won’t be easy. He eventually drops out of school, takes temp jobs, and comes to terms with the strange ways of the film industry; at one point, for example, Samuel’s boss has sex with Samuel’s date at the company Christmas party. Samuel keeps writing despite the fact that just about everyone else in LA seems to be working on a screenplay. But will he ever be able to find the right mix of luck and content to make it in such a twisted world? The novel offers some vulgar sentiments; for example, when someone rewrites one of Samuel’s scripts, Samuel describes it as “taking my baby and sticking his cock up the baby’s ass.” There’s also plenty of loveless sexual activity in this cruel vision of LA. That said, Coyote’s portrayal of the city manages to be friendlier than those drawn by, say, Bret Easton Ellis. The book also features cameos by Hollywood figures such as director and producer Irwin Allen. Overall, the story of Samuel’s struggle to become a writer can be redundant at times, and it will be obvious to perceptive readers that his success won’t take place in early chapters, if it ever does. The narrative keeps moving forward, though, and some readers will be intrigued by guessing what type of Hollywood depravity will occur next. Surprises happen, characters remain eager for big breaks, and the fate of a once-innocent kid in an unscrupulous place remains up in the air until the very end.

A harsh film-industry coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 209

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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