Saturday, March 24, 2007

I said SLEAZE, not snooze!!!!

Shortly before my vacation, I posted about my desire to find some good Hollywood sleaze at the library to take on vacation with me, and my frustration at finding the bio section filled with books on Jimmy Carter and Mother Teresa, when I was looking for something more along the lines of Mommy Dearest or The Dirt (Motley Crue's autobiography, and an EXCELLENT read: wall-to-wall sex, drugs, fistfights and general drama, not a boring paragraph in the entire 430-page book. Highly reccommend this one.)

I was pleased, then, to light on another book I'd picked up and replaced on the shelf for several years: Julia Phillips' You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. Julia Phillips was the producer of The Sting, and probably some other well-known films, too. I'll never know, because I'm about to throw in the towel with this one. She's promised great things, 125 pages into this 500+ page potboiler. she cuts back and forth a lot between her rise to the top and her life post-glory days, hinting at the breakup of her marriage, her descent into drugs and possibly alcohol abuse, the mysterious disintegration of her career.

But her writing style is so annoying I don't know if I can keep at it. It's like reading the diary of a ten-year-old girl. You know how they seem to have that utter inability to censor, how they keep sidetracking their own stories with irrelevant background and details ("So Ashley had this sleepover planned and we were gonna eat popcorn and watch the new Mary-Kate and Ashley movie, and Ashley totally disinvited Melissa to her sleepover, and Melissa was like "whatever, I'm going to sleep over at Beth's house that night anyway" but I don't like Beth very much because she said that my purple Trapper Keeper was ugly when I think she was just jealous because she doesn't even have a Trapper Keeper, because her dad won't buy her one but I kinda feel bad for her because her dad sounds really mean, but I still don't like her...") This is essentially how this book reads. I keep waiting for her to get to some kind of point, and I fear she never will.

She jumps around chronologically not just between past and present, but within the past as well. One minute, she and her partners are working to get The Sting produced, the next minute it's done, then suddenly you're back before the partnership was even formed. She introduces hundreds of characters, most of whom have only a walk-on role in her tale, which makes the book even more confusing.

Also, her ability to recall the most mundane details makes me suspicious. If she had as many substance-abuse problems as she claimed, how could she remember what SOMEONE ELSE ordered at a dinner that happened over 20 years ago, or what color dress her business partner's wife wore that night? You've got to think she's taken extreme creative license with this stuff, which makes you wonder: what else did she take license with in this book? And why bother? Who gives a shit that her partner's wife showed up in a devastating blue floor-length Armani when she's not mentioned for the rest of the description of the dinner? Where the hell was her editor? The book probably would've been shortened by a quarter if they'd cut out all such extraneous information.

I think this is a terribly self-indulgent book. With biographies, or autobiographies, it should be damn obvious within the first 50 pages why this story needs to be told. And yes, like with the Motley Crue book, "to entertain" is a legitimate reason for a story to be told. Years ago, I read Lillian Gish's autobiography, which was completely absent of Hollywood sleaze but a fascinating look into the beginning of movie-making.And I Don't Want to Live This Life, by Deborah Spungen (mother of Nancy Spungen, who was murdered by Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols) was a tragic tale of a child who the establishment utterly failed, and the toll this took on her life and her family's life. The authors of all three tales had real stories to tell, and each told them well. So far, I don't see what Julia Phillips has to say.

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