cover image Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable

Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable

William Peter Blatty. Dutton Books, $18.95 (188pp) ISBN 978-1-55611-501-1

The self-indulgence, eccentricity, back-stabbing and overweening neurotic behavior legendary to Hollywood reach new heights in this lively but hit-and-miss allegorical farce about contemporary movie-making. Respected auteur Jason Hazard hasn't worked in years and lives in the shadow of his movie-star wife, Spritely God. When Spritely's former husband, Artery Studios boss Arthur Zelig, offers Hazard a job directing the film version of the hot, bestselling novel The Satanist, the filmmaker is suspicious. He is also desperate, and so signs on. But as it happens, Zelig, who suffers from hysterical blindness and a dysfunctional penile implant, and who talks over his business deals with his pet cobra, is plotting to ruin Hazard and to win back Spritely, in order to cure his psychological afflictions. Hazard's film becomes the archetypal troubled project; ultimately, his sanity may be at greater risk than his career. Blatty doubtless weaves his own Hollywood experiences, particularly the filming of his megabestseller The Exorcist, into this tale, but the dishing here is broad and impersonal. The characters are heavily caricatured types. Because these players are all so emphatically unreal, readers may wind up, despite a madcap narrative, more amused than involved, as if watching monkeys frolicking behind glass at the zoo. Line drawings. (Sept.)