I couldn't put this down and had to finish it once I'd started, despite its 700+ page length. It's a brilliant insider account of the madness, back-stabbing and self-destruction that goes on in Hollywood. I've only seen a few of Eszterhas' films (Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, Hearts of Fire), but his account of sex, drugs, drinking, marriage breakdown and big money deals he was involved with in La La Land in the 1990s is utterly compelling.
Eszterhas started out as a journalist but became a record-breaking screenplay writer in the 1980s. One treatment he wrote (in 4 hours) was sold for $4 million. A major Hollywood star sleeps with him to thank him for making her career. Bob Dylan's dogs dump on his doorstep. He forgets how to go shopping. Every paragraph has the structure of a mini screenplay, ending on some sort of shocking revelation or denouement.
Eszterhas gives you all the vicarious thrills you'd want. But what makes the book so thrilling is his skillful use of a variety of different voices. He writes movingly about his childhood and his relationship with his parents (discovering a dark secret at the heart of his father's biography). He presents occasional vignettes about subsidiary Hollywood players (such as the surgeon who had gold disks - not medical certificates - on his wall). And the book really moves up a gear when he quotes verbatim from the diary of the woman who eventually becomes his second wife. He spares us none of the grissly details about the breakdown of his marriage, his alcoholism (swigs of schnapps and bottles of beer all day plus 4 bottles of wine a night), and his illness. A thrilling, tragic, but ultimately uplifting autobiography of a Hollywood icon.