John O'Hara's Hollywood
  • John O'Hara's Hollywood
  • John O'Hara's Hollywood

John O'Hara's Hollywood

by John O'Hara
     
 

On the sound stage and the casting couch, behind the facades of Spanish style mansions and inside studio trailers, at costumes and makeup, in posh nightclubs and in backrooms filled with cigar smoke, here are the ruthless producers, over-the-hill directors, disillusioned writers, glamorously callous actresses, desperate and hungry starlets, and matinee idols with

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Overview

On the sound stage and the casting couch, behind the facades of Spanish style mansions and inside studio trailers, at costumes and makeup, in posh nightclubs and in backrooms filled with cigar smoke, here are the ruthless producers, over-the-hill directors, disillusioned writers, glamorously callous actresses, desperate and hungry starlets, and matinee idols with dark secrets as they are unsparingly observed by one of America's most popular masters of realism. Best known for the now-classic 1934 novel Appointment in Samarra and such blockbuster bestsellers as Ten North Frederick and Butterfield 8, in a career spanning four decades John O'Hara also published numerous story collections. Among his finest work, they highlight qualities that sold more than 15 million copies of his books in the course of his career: the snappy dialogue, the telling detail, the ironic narrative twist. Like the novels, and like the much-praised collection of John O'Hara's Gibbsville stories, also edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli, the selections in John O'Hara's Hollywood, many originally appearing in the New Yorker or the Saturday Evening Post, explore the materialist aspirations and sexual exploits of flawed, prodigally human characters for whom arrangements consitute a deal and compromises pass for love.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
This uneven collection focuses on issues of status and morality (or lack thereof) during the heyday of the studio star system. One of the most popular and prolific writers of his era, O'Hara wrote novels that were adapted into movies (Pal Joey, 1957; Butterfield 8, 1960, etc.) and cashed some paychecks as a screenwriter, but he never devoted a novel to Hollywood. Yet his experiences there provided plenty of inspiration for his fiction, as this posthumous collection of 22 stories attests. Spanning 36 years, the anthology proceeds chronologically, starting with early 1930s pieces for the New Yorker that are barely stories at all, mainly vignettes or conversations of a couple pages or slightly more. In the 1960s, O'Hara progressed to longer pieces that are more engaging and compelling. Though editor Bruccoli in his introduction describes these-"Natica Jackson" and "James Francis and the Star" among them-as "primarily character stories," O'Hara's characters typically lack the depth and complexity of individuals and are more like stereotypes. He's most concerned with actresses who are past their prime (or, occasionally on the verge), who invariably owe their success to accidents of looks and luck rather than to anything approaching talent. In 1969's "The Sun Room," a proudly notorious former star speaks for many in this collection when she says she'd like to teach an acting course where one week she'd "lecture on bust development" and the next "demonstrate the technique of the casting couch." Writers in these stories are intellectually superior to actors, though not always morally so. Hollywood husbands are predominantly gay, even possibly the one in "In a Grove" who marries a hooker andoffers her to an acquaintance for $100. Dialogue is O'Hara's strength, though some of it dates these stories. Readers might find this less compelling as fiction than as a glimpse into what Hollywood was "really" like.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786718726
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
12/28/2006
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Matthew J. Bruccoli is the Jefferies professor of English at the University of South Carolina; the editor of numerous books on American writers, among them The Selected Letters of John O'Hara; and the author of numerous titles, including the biographies Some Sort of Epic Grandeur (of F.Scott Fitzgerald) and The O'Hara Concern. He lives in Columbia South Carolina.

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