‘What will you do?’
‘Oh, hell, I'll write a novel about writing the screenplay and making the movie.’
‘What are you going to call it?’
Henry Chinaski has a penchant for booze, women and horse-racing. On his precarious journey from poet to screenwriter he encounters a host of well-known stars and lays bare the absurdity and egotism of the film industry. Poetic, sharp and dangerous, Hollywood – Bukowski’s fictionalisation of his experiences making the film Barfly – explores the many dark shadows to be found in the neon-soaked glare of Hollywood’s limelight.
Bukowski ( The Roominghouse Madrigals ) has written over 30 books of poetry and fiction in which he uses the persona of the artistic bum with reasonable success. In this flimsy novel, Henry Chinaski is asked to write a screenplay, and thus Bukowski continues his thinly disguised autobiography (Bukowski himself wrote the screenplay for the recent, self-referential Barfly ). When all the Hollywood types Chinaski encounters--directors, lawyers, producers, actors, actresses--fit the same drunken-outcast-but-artistic-genius mold, Bukowski seems to have exhausted his resourcefulness. His characters lose their individuality and the novel lacks force and perspective. This book deteriorates into juvenile satire in which familiar, real-life figures appear with the letters of their names shifted slightly: the famous director Jon-Luc Modard, the philosopher Jean-Paul Sanrah, Frances Ford Lopalla and an obvious Norman Mailer stand-in called Victor Norman.