I donít know if itís possible to actually be in love with a book, but Iím fairly certain I am in love with HOLLYWOOD FOREVER. Iíd say the love affair started at the beginning with the DMV meltdown and subsequent aftermath and continued all the way to the end of the novel. Iím not sure if Iím a better person for reading it, nor am I sure that my life was somehow enriched, but I must say that Iím pretty darn happy that I discovered this book. And I was slightly depressed when it was finished (not Prozac depressed) but slightly disappointed all the same.
Harold Hall became a legend, although he didnít start out that way. In fact, he wasnít even the best looking Superman on the street corner, and he was throttled to the point that the Superman with the better muscles was having bills shoved in his direction and stuffed in his spandex while poor Harold was sucking pavement parts through a straw while slipping in and out of consciousness after his head had swelled up to twice its normal size.
Herz knows female characters. By the halfway point of the novel, Iíd developed schoolboy crushes on both Eliah and Samantha Parsons. Both women were well fleshed out and stood out from the printed page like rock stars with their mouths pressed against the microphone as the crowd screamed their names.
The prose was wonderful, depressing, hilarious, beautiful, fulfilling, and the emotional rollercoaster never seemed to end. I equate it to being shoved in a washing machine, having the best sex of my life, being punched out by a TV executive while in the middle of my annual performance review, and then laughing so hard that I have cough syrup coming out of my nose. It was one beautiful, miraculous mess, and I was in the middle of one of the best dreams of my life. When it ended, I felt like someone needed to pinch me, and then I needed to go back to recreating the dream.
But the disastrous love affair didnít end with the characters and the prose. No, the ride incorporated the technology monstrosity from which we can never return. We live in an age where we have technology imprinted on our brains as we wait for the next email ping (guilty), updating our Facebook status and Tweeting in the middle of a funeral or while in the midst of a traffic jam, and where reality TV has completely consumed our lives. These are rather interesting times, and Herz infuses all of it with his wit and charm.
While itís really hard to use such an arbitrary term as best book, since books affect each of us in unique ways based on the uniqueness of the authors and the distinctiveness of the characters and the prose, Iíll dangle myself from an errant tree branch over the middle of Fantasy Park and say that this is the best book Iíve read so far this year.