|I hate to give a dead man a somewhat poor review for one of his books when I can in no way ask him about what was going through his head at the time. But even if I could ask him, why would that matter? He’s Bukowski. He doesn’t have to give a shit.
As a late novel in his Chinaski series, Hollywood plays out in some areas feeling similar to an “Old Man Logan” feel, or in this case “Old Man Chinaski”. The parts that are best are the passages in which Buk reflects back on his “old life”, fueled by nostalgia and how he would have handled present-day situations if he were younger and of a different mindset. He recalls how far he’s come, but still isn’t quite on board with where he ended up, and considers the idea that he may have rolled over, bellied-up, and died inside by taking on the “responsibilities” of so-called normal society like buying a new car, a house, hiring a tax-advisor, etc. Buk occasionally wonders what people he knew during his formative years “are doing now” because he’s subconsciously comparing his own self-worth to whatever they became and however they must have turned out, answers he will probably never get. The banter between he and his wife Sarah (Linda) remind me of my own conversations with my wife, so that was fun.
That being said, the rest of the book is insanely boring, tedious, and a literal chore to get through. I found myself stretching before opening the book each time to read a few chapters, both physically and mentally, because much of the story deals with the making of the movie “Barfly”, one of the worst movies ever made in my opinion. All of the conversations between the Hollywood minds go on and on and on and on about the making of the movie and all the trials and tribulations (some of which are interesting but only in the same way you might discover a new favorite kind of toilet paper because it’s a dollar cheaper, or it feels slightly better on your exiting hole) and they never seem to achieve anything other than placing another domino on its skinny end next to the last domino, making an endless trail of dominos that never seems to lead anywhere, whereas Buk just sits there and observes next to his wife who in this story serves as little more than a character ornament (Buk was never very good at making his characters stand out in any special way, they all kind of blend together, cut from the same cloth).
By the time I finished, I found myself wanting to hire someone to cut my head off with a chainsaw, just so I could find some peace of mind. While not a horrible book, it is a pretty bad in terms of being compared to Buk’s earlier work. There were some lines that gave me an out-loud chuckle or two, but that doesn’t make a book a particularly good book. I didn’t hate this book, but I will have to agree with a friend of mine in saying that this is officially my least favorite of Buk’s. If you’re going to write a book about writing a screenplay for a bad movie, maybe you shouldn’t. I’d give it 3.5 stars if I could, but I never round up. So 3 stars it is.