cover image Popcorn: Hollywood Stories

Popcorn: Hollywood Stories

Julia Cameron. Really Great Books, $14.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-893329-12-6

Inspirational author, journalist and ex-screenwriter Cameron, best known for her perennially bestselling creativity bible, The Artist's Way, delivers with exactitude on her title in the 18 nonnutritious stories that compose this frothy foray into Tinseltown. A star identified only as Our Heroine switches sexual preferences as expediency dictates; a studio head seeks approval from the inspirational and quite verbal ghost of Walt Disney; a director is willing to cover up a starlet's murder of her mobster boyfriend so the show can go on; a literary agent prefers to work for dead clients; a director and his memoir-writing wife do a ""he said/she said"" riff on why he's been exiled to the Roman Hills following allegations by a 14-year-old actress's stage mother--these are a sampling of the situations that structure these heavily character-driven tales. In an author's note, Hollywood insider Cameron designates her stories as ""`friction'--the abrasion of reality against dream,"" and claims, ""None of them is true, but all are accurate."" Still, the chief fun in this acidic collection lies in trying to guess which real-life star each awful character might be modeled on. The shorter stories are mere teasing kernels and the longer ones are too empty and pat, given to such nonepiphanies as a magazine editor's awakening to the notion that Steven Spielberg has talent. While the arch writing can be diamond sharp, vacuous characters whining about the isolation of fame, coping with the inevitable substance-abuse problems and spouting egotistic bombast leave the reader jaded and cynical by the time the lights go up. Author tour. (Oct.)