Eszterhas writes with his fists. You practically duck as you turn the page…[his] mad account at times makes you want to hurl the book out the window, and yet you don't. You keep going, thinking, whereon earthis this headed? The man is more than one bubble off plumb, and yet you can't help liking him. "We are fools for Christ's sake," writes Paul in I Corinthians 4:10. (A line oddly not adduced by Eszterhas.) Joe Eszterhas is God's fool, all lit up in neon, and it's quite the show. You will be appalled, you will be revolted, you will almost certainly go, Oy gevalt, but you won't be bored. And you may even be moved.
The New York Times
Followers of provocative screenwriter (Basic Instinct, Flashdance, Showgirls) and author (Hollywood Animal, American Rhapsody) Eszterhas may do a double-take when they see his entertaining new memoir branded with a cross, and a triple-take when they see he means it. In 2001, 56-year-old Eszterhas, recently moved to Ohio with his wife and four sons, was diagnosed with throat cancer, and ordered to end immediately all smoking and drinking-a near-impossible task for the 44-year abuser. Afterward, literally wandering the streets of Vegas, Eszterhas collapses on a curb, opens his heart, and God "saves him"-to no one's greater surprise than his own. As he struggles with his illness, addictions and guilt, Eszterhas draws strength from faith and learns about life with God, revisiting some misadventures from his drug-fueled Hollywood years. Though Eszterhas now claims faith and family the most important things in his life, the book is focused squarely on Eszterhas; early on, he discovers his church's Father Bob was inspired "to follow his dream" by a line in Flashdance, "and now, as a priest, he had inspired me in turn to love God." Still, Eszterhas's journey is inspiring and his tough-guy sense of humor reamins intact, though fans may find it hard to follow the author of The Devil's Guide to Hollywood into the arms of a loving God.
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A memoir of religious conversion cannot be effectively written all that soon after the event. How can any writer communicate this sort of all-transcending shock so quickly without being weepy, stunned, or overwrought? He cannot, and Eszterhas, screenwriter of such blockbusters as Basic Instinct, still hasn't achieved this more than eight years after his conversion. His memoir has all of these emotional reactions and more. At times it's just too much. With throat cancer, with the necessity of instantaneously giving up smoking and drinking, with the rejection of his former ways of thinking and living, with the intrusion of an experience of the divine-and also with his experience of being rejected by many family members and friends, Eszterhas had a lot to cope with. For readers who can withstand all this emotion, his memoir is worth reading and instructive about getting through very difficult circumstances. However, note that the author, while intelligent and educated, is not a theologian and has no particular background in Catholic spirituality: his views on Catholic doctrine and practice are not always reliable. Recommended with these caveats for both academic and public libraries.
James F. DeRoche
“Eszterhas writes with his fists. You practically duck as you turn the page...you won't be bored. And you may even be moved.” Christopher Buckley, New York Times Book Review
“An extremely gifted writer…this story of penitent return is told simply and movingly…Joe Eszterhas has given us a contemporary story of the Prodigal Son.” James Carroll, National Catholic Reporter
“Tells the story of his spiritual conversion and his newfound devotion to God and family,,,His new book is evidence of Mr. Eszterhas' victory.” Toledo Blade
“Followers of provocative screenwriter (Basic Instinct, Flashdance, Showgirls) and author (Hollywood Animal, American Rhapsody) Eszterhas may do a double-take when they see his entertaining new memoir branded with a cross, and a triple-take when they see he means it... Eszterhas's journey is inspiring and his tough-guy sense of humor remains intact.” Publishers Weekly
“It is fascinating to hear him wrestle with his decision to remain in the Catholic church...while the memoir is raw at times, it is never short of interesting anecdotes...he is a fantastic writer.” www.challies.com