Contemporary fiction has vampires, bondage and, now, Hollywood. The latest genre craze is the Hollywood novel, and a trio of new books has something for everyone.
First, there’s the critically acclaimed Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. (The New York Times called it a “surprising and witty novel of social criticism.”) It’s the story of a starlet fallen ill on the set of Cleopatra, whose secrets then unspool over decades to impact everyone from an indie rock band to a Robert Evans-type producer. Its linked points of view evoke a more upbeat Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
Dead Stars by Bruce Wagner is a hefty 604 pages. But don’t be scared away by its size, or the snarky authorial voice skewering everything from reality television to Jonathan Franzen (coincidence?). This tale of television hopefuls, cancer survivors and Michael Douglas shows us a horrifyingly celebrity-obsessed world that leaves readers heartened by their own lives--and in need of a hot shower.
Lastly, there’s The Next Best Thing, Jennifer Weiner’s story of the trials--from sexist producers to meddling network execs--faced by a female show-runner. Weiner’s work is oft dismissed as chick lit, but the best-selling author (who ignited a 2010 debate about “overcoverage” of--guess who?--Jonathan Franzen) is, in our book, a truth teller.