Hollywood is a highly charged electromagnetic field, and it draws toward itself certain kinds of artistic temperaments. Regardless of the lies these artists tell themselves lies about the integrity of their work, the extent of their talent, and the sanctity of their personal relationships they are each pulled toward the town's magnetic core: that is, toward the money. This collection of fourteen stories describes the various angles, acute and obtuse, at which certain individual artists, mainly aging actors and blocked and balky screenwriters, stand in relation to Hollywood's money-magnet."My Literary Life," one of the two novellas that anchor this collection, describes the dual life of Jamie Read, a Manhattan novelist who has compromised his self-image and his literary standing by adapting his "serious" first novel (Sometimes a Moron) into the screenplay for a big-budget "popcorn" comedy (Beverly Hills Moron). It and the twelve short stories gathered here each a satirical glimpse into the lives of agents, actors, hacks, and flaks collectively make up one of the most astute skewerings of bi-coastal artistic hustling since The Player.In contrast, the other novella, "Love Scenes," is a fine slice of domestic realism: a portrait of a divorced, fortyish actor named Wesley Sender a supporting player, never a star, the small roles now coming smaller and farther apart. When at last (and unexpectedly) he lands a major part the romantic lead in an indie feature he plumbs his past for the bittersweet moments that he must draw on for inspiration, a parade of sexy, dramatic, sad, and mundane vignettes with his ex-wife, his latest girlfriend, and girls and women he has only fantasized about loving, including the leading lady in the film he's now shooting.In the end, Saroyan writes, Artists in Trouble is not only about Hollywood but also about creative persons everywhere as they weather the middle of life's journey. These are stories about the generations mentor and pupil, older self and younger self, parent and child "and the way the world is in the dark when we discover we are lost."
Literature & Fiction, Poetry, General,