American Dream Machine

Matthew Specktor, Author
Matthew Specktor. Tin House (PGW, dist.), $25.95 (464p) ISBN 9781935639442
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Ebook - 711 pages - 978-1-935639-45-9
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4055-2465-0
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-0-7515-5161-7
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-7515-5162-4
Paperback - 482 pages - 978-1-935639-80-0
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At the center of Specktor’s conventional second novel (after That Summertime Sound) is Beau Rosenwald, a Jewish boy from New York who lands in Los Angeles in the 1960s with nothing and uses his improbable charisma to become a powerful Hollywood agent. Narrated by his son Nate, the novel alternates between Beau’s successes and failures with his talent agency, American Dream Machine, and his son’s attempts during the 1990s and 2000s to find purpose. Nate and his half-brother Severin grow up in the Hollywood miasma and struggle to escape from their father’s shadow, in the process falling into drugs and hedonism. Meanwhile, Beau’s blusterous personality leads to a feud with his conflicted business partner, Williams Farquarsen III, who nurses a destructive secret, and as time goes on, Beau becomes increasingly isolated from the Hollywood of a new generation. The mostly familiar plot meanders with few surprises, but the book is nonetheless filled with aperçus of the cynical and vulgar world of Hollywood executives. While Specktor (That Summertime Sound), a film executive and the founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, does not quite achieve an epic tone, his novel of the seedy guardians of the mythic American dream succeeds in showing just how unpleasant the film industry can be. Agent: Marc Gerald, The Agency Group. (Apr.)
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