Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California

Matthew Specktor. Tin House, $17.95 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-951142-62-9
Specktor (American Dream Machine), a novelist and film critic, calls on both skills in this fascinating look at Hollywood, a place that’s “as much a notion as it is a neighborhood.” To better understand his “gnawing fascination” with his hometown and its promise “against some very steep odds for ‘success,’ ” he surveys a range of “marginal” Hollywood figures who were drawn to its flame, but “whose careers carry an aura of what might, also, have been.” These include film director Frank Perry, whose “modest” reputation obscured the “substantial” body of work of his partner and wife Eleanor Perry, thanks to the industry’s “institutional and overt sexism”—a situation that echoes the careers of Specktor’s film industry parents. Rock singer-songwriter Warren Zevon (and former paramour of writer Eve Babitz) may have been born in Chicago, but his music was conceived from “the mirage of Hollywood... like an all-night casino, in which every gesture has the force of desperation while remaining... fundamentally lighthearted.” Meanwhile, an illuminating essay on Specktor’s childhood idol, the novelist Thomas McGuane, considers how he left the “sheer California chaos” that both fueled and imperiled his writing for a quiet life in Montana. This enthralling work deserves a central spot on the ever-growing shelf of books about Tinseltown. (July)
Reviewed on : 06/09/2021
Release date: 07/27/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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