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Hollywood (1989)

by Charles Bukowski

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1,456189,755 (3.66)23
Hank and his wife, Sarah, agree to write a screenplay, and encounter the strange world of the movie industry.

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English (14)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Giving this book to the library. Not as engaging and funny as the other Hank Chinaski reads. Sad.
  LiteraryW | Mar 19, 2018 |
This is Bukowski at his funniest. François Racine and his chickens, ya poor bastard. Love it baby. ( )
  Verge0007 | May 20, 2017 |
When I first read this I would've given it a few stars. This is in part because I was lead to believe that liking Bukowski would make me appear very cool and superior. I try not to do that any more when I read books, but the real reason I refuse to give this a good review is because my rather more recent awareness that Bukowski beats women means that I would like to boycott any culture that makes him seem valid!

Also his poetry legitimately sucks, guys. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
A good addition to the Charles Bukowski legend, Hollywood sees the author's avatar Henry Chinaski now finally successful and writing a screenplay about his life. This screenplay would be made into the movie Barfly starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway, and I recommend watching that film before reading this book as scenes from the book will make much more sense with this prior knowledge. When Bukowski criticises the bar scene where half a bottle of beer is left behind, I could recall the scene in my mind: I found it odd too when I watched it. You could probably still enjoy the book without watching the film, but Bukowski's opinions and criticisms of certain scenes and certain actors obviously make much more sense if you have seen them for yourself.

Unfortunately, the fact that Bukowski/Chinaski is now successful means he has lost a bit of his fire. He is rather too content: gone is the boozing (mostly) and the fighting and the womanising. This makes Hollywood seem rather tame in comparison to his previous novels; the angry cynicism which was so gratifying to read in the likes of Post Office has been replaced by a milder, more genial form of cynicism. The Chinaski of Hollywood still drinks, to be sure. But his wife watches his intake and won't let him eat red meat, among other things. And far from hating the world and everyone in it, this reformed Chinaski is friendlier and actually sometimes tries to keep conversations going. As fans and as human beings, we're happy that Bukowski found happiness and success and contentment towards the end of his life, but that wasn't why we were drawn to his writing in the first place. The writing is still as easy to read as ever - I breezed through it - but it doesn't burn into you the way the prose in Ham on Rye, Post Office and Factotum often could.

The book also offers some observations on the Hollywood movie-making process, but Bukowski doesn't rip into this as often or as hard as I anticipated. Sure, some portrayals are unflattering but I don't think any of the characters' real-life counterparts would cringe too much at this book. Actors are divas, producers are penny-pinching and show-business is a madhouse: who knew? And, of course, the more years pass since Hollywood was published, the less people care about how the likes of Rourke and Dunaway behaved in the late Eighties.

Nevertheless, as mentioned in the first line of my review there is value in the book when seen as an addition to the legends surrounding Charles Bukowski. The older, more successful Chinaski is concerned about selling out - he has a tax consultant, for Christ's sake - and pines for the days when he was young and impoverished. These are romanticised as the grand old starving days when I was writing the good stuff" (pg. 48). This is particularly marked as he is witnessing part of that past brought to life on a movie set, with actors playing the role of Chinaski and people from his past. Watching Rourke do a scene, Chinaski exclaims to himself: "Shit, it was the young Chinaski! It was me! I felt a tender aching within me. Youth, you son of a bitch, where did you go?" (pg. 158). Whilst Pulp was Bukowski's last novel (and a very enjoyable one, at that), it is Hollywood which is the coda to the Chinaski story. In my opinion, Bukowski provided a better sign-off to his life's work in his poetry (see the posthumous Betting on the Muse, for example) but, if you're set on sticking to his novels, Hollywood is a good place to end your journey. On page 159, Chinaski says of another poet: "He had it. He had it the way it was, whether it meant anything or not, he had it the way it was." That just about sums up Bukowski." ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
I do admire Bukowski's sparse writing style; not a word is wasted but, for me, this book fails to live up to its blurb. The reverse of the paperback edition promises, "There are many scandalous books about life in Hollywood, but none as poetic and dangerous as this..." I did not find a great deal of either scandal or dangerousness in this work.

The book is another of those stories which are basically true, but the author has fictionalised it so that a). he may exaggerate the drama for amusement, and b). he may tell tales detrimental to the characters without the risk of a law suit. Bukowski plays a game with homophones so that we may join in with 'guess the real identity' of his victims. This is amusing, for a while, but does become a trifle tedious. Being generous to our scribe, it may be that the 'wackiness' of Hollywood was greeted with incredulity in 1989, when this was written, but today, money spent rashly and grand binges of booze and (gasp, shock, horror) other substances barely causes an eyelash to flutter.

This has turned into an undeservingly unkind review: the book isn't bad, it's just that it isn't particularly good either. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Sep 16, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
The basic motif of the novel consists of the endless wrangles and cons that characterize the making of a movie with a tiny budget, a movie that almost nobody wants to make and that almost nobody will pay to see. They couldn't have been any more operatic if the film had been a megastar superproduction like ''Cleopatra.''

The lower the stakes, the more frenzied the power struggles . . . and the more often the word ''genius'' is thrown around. Chinaski, the drinking-gambling-typing persona that runs through Mr. Bukowski's writing, refuses to be impressed by hyped-up art house deities such as Wenner Zergog and Jon-Luc Modard. Need I say, this is fiction disguised thinly enough for even non-cinephiles to see through the pseudonyms.
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew York Times, Molly Haskell

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bukowski, Charlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sounes, HowardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A couple of days later Pinchot phoned. He said he wanted to go ahead with the screenplay. We should come down and see him?
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Hank and his wife, Sarah, agree to write a screenplay, and encounter the strange world of the movie industry.

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