Top critical review
on 1 December 2014
As much as this pains me to say, “Hollywood” was a massive disappointment. The book has no energy, Chinaski is old, tired and dare I say, a sellout.
As always, Chinaski is Bukowski's alter ego and that may be the problem. Bukowski was living comfortably, money in the bank and a solid relationship with a good woman. Bukowski just doesn't work as... well happy, I guess. His writing is stale, dull, with only brief flashes of his “old” brilliance. The book is about his “adventure” in “Hollywood”, adapting one of his novels for the big screen. The book is filled with little “stories” about how weird the people in the movie business are, with made up names of course, but its all terribly “empty” and in the end it all feels shallow. The whole book seems like Bukowski is going through the motions, writing like its “a job” and not because he actually has anything to say. Gone is the despair, the hunger, the quiet rage at the “machine”. Nothing is is remotely deep or has any meaning. “Hollywood” by Bukowski is as superficial and vacuous as the business it depicts and as much about the “bottom line” too. Its a tired exercise by a tired man. With his last shred of... shall we say self awareness, Bukowski struggles to spend the book looking down on those “crazy Hollywood types” when deep down, both him and the reader know that no matter how he tries to hide it, even from himself, he became one of them and ultimately one of the “system”.
As a piece of entertainment, “Hollywood” also has little to offer. The usual cast of over the top characters are everywhere but here, unlike in his other novels, their use seems desperate and not very convincing. Bukowski goes to extremes to show their “weirdness” but it all feels very bland and there isn't much of his usual dry humor either.
If you're a fan of Bukowski and his work in his prime, I would recommend you to stay away from “Hollywood”. Remember Chinaski as the rebel he once was and not an old man writing a script and a novel for a few more bucks to spend on a new car. Oh how I wish i'd have read this review before reading “Hollywood”.