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5.0 out of 5 stars Brave and Brilliant!, 6 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Hollywood Forever (Kindle Edition)
Following hot on the heels of Herz's wonderful book Pharmacology, Hollywood Forever is an ambitious and exciting story of an out-of-work actor in LA, destined to become a 21st century superstar.

As writer Emily Snow explains: `Harold Hall's popularity, bolstered by a nervous breakdown caught on camera at the Hollywood DMV, has suddenly risen sky-high. Now strangers are taking his picture and uploading his every move to Facebook and Twitter. For a struggling actor looking to leave a legacy, it's a dream come true. But Harold's love, Eliah, doesn't even have a cell phone, let alone a hashtag. And when Harold is cast as a revolutionary leader in a groundbreaking new web show, he lands the role that was built to make him a legend...but not without a cost.'

Considering we are deep into the `social media age' by now, there aren't many authors (or TV and film writers) who successfully integrate contemporary gadgets and platforms into their work. But Herz does this beautifully, showing how film and fame are being transformed into `content', `uploads', `likes' and `retweets'. In many ways Howard Hall is an old-fashioned (anti) hero, cursed with traditional novelistic `character flaws' such as ambition, greed and vanity. At times he reminds me of another All-American tragic dreamer, Willy Loman of Death of A Salesman. But unlike Loman, Hall is utterly up to date, adaptable to a changing world and willing to use the very latest technology to get himself on screen, whether that screen be big or small or an iphone.

Howard Hall is also very of his time in that he knows how our 21st century `selfie' culture requires some hard, metrosexual work in preparation for all those big moments in front of the camera. I particularly liked his description early in the book, of going to a typical LA gym:

'24 Hour Fitness in Los Angeles during the middle of the day is a full-throttle blast of energy drinks that give an extra push in the great race towards perfection. Makeup and surgery may be able to take care of you once you're famous, but getting there - well, nobody has the money to properly cover anything up when you're struggling, so you'd best get it going at the gym.

Most people watch those futuristic movies where everyone is drinking strange food out of shiny packages, but I'll tell you that if you're into dystopian thrillers, move on down to Hollywood and stay in the gym, because everything going on here suggests we are being mutated from the inside out.'

It's difficult to go further into the story without giving crucial plot details away. Hollywood Forever is fanciful and out-there in many ways, but also crushingly realistic in its study of human hope, disappointment and mournful compromise. It is a great book, and another reminder that Christopher Herz is a brave, imaginative and insightful writer.
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