Told in the form of interviews with those who knew and hated him, this hilarious and irreverent mockumentary recounts the rise and fall of notorious Hollywood producer Shark Trager. As a young man, Shark had dreams of directing artistic movies, but when his film school project is savaged by a snobby French critic, Shark turns instead to producing exploitative trash, the more shocking and outrageous the better. Fueled by a nonstop supply of sex and drugs, Shark’s life and work become increasingly bizarre and erratic. Yet we meet a different side of Shark too, as we learn how he saved a group of Sunday school teachers held hostage by terrorists, prevented a horrific attack on Nancy Reagan by a sex-crazed donkey, and single-handedly took out a squad of dangerous neo-Nazis posing as disabled schoolchildren. It all leads up to a wild and explosive finale when, against all odds, one of Shark’s films finds itself a contender for the Academy Awards—but the ceremony doesn’t go exactly according to plan ...
Riotously funny, wickedly politically incorrect, and completely impossible to put down, James Robert Baker’s satire of the film industry Boy Wonder (1988), long revered as a cult classic, returns to print at last in this new edition, which includes an afterword by his partner, Ron Robertson.
In his second novel, the author of Fuel-Injected Dreams has produced a frenzied, satirical account of life in the Hollywood fast lane, a kind of Valley of the Dolls of the coke generation. The eponymous protagonist is a B-movie mogul, appropriately named Shark Trager, who moves through the Hollywood firmament like a supernova of schlock, eventually burning himself out and dying tragically at the age of 38, an industry legend. The story of this gaudy enfante terrible is told oral-history style through the voices of friends, associates, family and enemies. Through their eyes, we witness the rise and fall of a sadistic bully and maestro of cinematic shock: his calamitous birth, in a Southern California drive-in movie theater; his disastrous early years, distinguished by an unhappy home life and a world-class case of unrequited adolescent lust; his knockabout days as a UCLA film-school dropout and apprentice filmmaker; and his reign of terror as an impresario of the exploitation film and eventual mainstream mogul. His films are a thesaurus of bad taste, but they reflect the lifestyle of the man who is their creative midwife: a world of casual sex and violence, drugs and blackmail, backbiting, cutthroat intrigue and shady finances. The events in the films also eerily mirror events in Shark's life, as if this coke-addled auteur was attempting to rewrite his life in celluloid. Often amusing in its hectic and careening broad-stroke sendup, the novel eventually defuses the sting of its satire by overkill of shocking incidents and lightweight psychology. A cartoon of life in the Hollywood fast lane, Boy Wonder is something of a B-novel, an intermittently amusing ``exploitation'' of the lifestyles of the rich and infamous.