Barbara, a Playboy bunny, is delectable. Richard loves her. He abandons his life in London, a steady girlfriend, and a job, and flies to Los Angeles in search of Barbara and the romanticized America he's seen only in the movies.
Richard obsessively pursues Barbara through a series of misadventures that take him from photography sessions in the desert to encounters with men in gorilla suits and "surf Nazis." Eventually he succeeds in wooing her, and they marry, bathed in the neon lights of Las Vegas. But their happiness unravels, and Barbara skips out. Richard determines to win her back; then he, too, takes flight, as the happy ending he had envisioned for their lives fades to black in the film capital of the world. Brilliantly candid and comedic, Richard Rayner's ironic first book is a cult favorite—later filmed starring David Tennant, Julie Delpy and Johnny Depp—and a dazzling travelogue of love, loss, and all destinations in between.
British journalist Rayner's fiction debut is a funny, fractured mission of vengeance against a city he likens to a ``terrible nightclub'' and its denizens to a gallery of grotesques. Fleeing his staid life in London to pursue an infatuation with a Playboy bunny, the narrator, named after the author, lands in L.A. only to discover that his Anglo diffidence and manners make him one oddball among many; quickly, he learns that he's ``just another hustler, with a cute accent.'' As Barbara the bunny moves further out of reach, Rayner finds himself trapped on the city's fringes, traveling on public buses whose drivers are budding hijackers, working as a pool cleaner for show-biz higher-ups, and sinking in a morass of drugs, not-quite-starlets and unsold scripts. Studded with bitingly nasty anecdotes about celebrities as diverse as Ike Turner and Jerry Lewis (neither of whom is likely to be pleased), the narrative is far too random and scattershot to succeed as a novel; but as a collection of observations, it's lethally accurate.