A Thousand Acres ) goes Hollywood in this scintillating tale of an extended Decameron -esque L.A. house party. Gatherin"/>
 

Ten Days in the Hills

Jane Smiley, Author
Jane Smiley, Author . Knopf $26 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4061-2
Reviewed on: 12/04/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007

Smiley (A Thousand Acres ) goes Hollywood in this scintillating tale of an extended Decameron -esque L.A. house party. Gathering at the home of washed-up director Max the morning after the 2003 Academy Awards are his Iraq-obsessed girlfriend, Elena; his movie-diva ex-wife Zoe and her yoga instructor–cum–therapist–cum– boyfriend Paul; Max's insufferably PC daughter, Isabel, and his feckless agent, Stoney, who are conducting a secret affair; Zoe's oracular mother, Delphine; and Max's boyhood friend and token Republican irritant Charlie. They watch movies, negotiate their clashing diets and health regimens, indulge in a roundelay of lasciviously detailed sexual encounters and, most of all, talk—holding absurd, meandering, beguiling conversation about movies, Hollywood, relationships, the war and the state of the world. Through it all, they compulsively reimagine daily life as art: Max dreams of making My Lovemaking with Elena , an all-nude, sexually explicit indie talk-fest inspired by My Dinner with Andre , but Stoney wants him to remake the Cossack epic Taras Bulba . Smiley delivers a delightful, subtly observant sendup of Tinseltown folly, yet she treats her characters, their concern with compelling surfaces and their perpetual quest to capture reality through artifice, with warmth and seriousness. In their shallowness, she finds a kind of profundity. (Feb.)

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