PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewElegant ... We’ve met Feldman’s type before, in just about every comically cockeyed portrayal of show business ever. And Marra, whose sleek, darting sentences are sharp enough that we don’t mind, sets us up with a few glimpses of the familiar ... But just when we think we know the story Marra is telling here, he pulls the rug out from under us ... Marra’s sublime dexterity brings these worlds into a natural-seeming alignment, but it also sets up a tonal disparity the novel never fully resolves ... Mercury Pictures Presents [has a] fleet, often funny, narrative omniscience, an effervescent mood that remains even in its bleakest moments and settings ... Then again, this indeterminacy may be the point. That Marra’s novel doesn’t square into being either a portrait of Fascist horror or a rambunctious tale of immigrants propping up a studio during what might remain even now Hollywood’s most tumultuous decade ever, but rather remains something of both, is its ultimate strength: its way of asserting itself, without ever needing to declare itself, on the side of art.
RaveThe AtlanticIt is a tale driven more by encounter than incident: Hopper and Hayward collide herein with just about every major cultural personage of the American mid-century—including Miles Davis, Andy Warhol, Martin Luther King Jr., David O. Selznick ... If you want narrative complication, look elsewhere, but if you want a vibrant depiction of how some of the most substantial creative figures of the 20th century jostled against and inspired one another? Look here. What makes Rozzo’s book exciting is not just the collective artistic firepower of the various names involved, but the many surprising ways in which these names interact, and the ways in which these interactions occasionally give rise to significant cultural events ... These encounters are thrilling (the discovery of the Byrds, and Rozzo’s descriptions of their vertiginous, druggy, and erotic allure suddenly lighting up the Sunset Strip, are particularly so), and go a ways toward balancing the story’s grimmer aspect: the horrendous decline of the marriage as Hopper conducts his full-blown slide into alcohol- and drug-fed mania, finally arriving at scenes of abuse that are as awful and frightening as you can imagine ... he finds his way to an unexpectedly elegiac conclusion ... The triumph of Rozzo’s book is that one ultimately feels this sense of possibility at its full extension. The mother lode of anecdote and gossip these pages contain is one reason to enjoy them. Another, perhaps more substantial, one is to feel all this potential before it evaporates, and before this improbable, fleetingly beautiful union—just like that period of promise that would occur for the movies merely a year or two later; that electric moment in which they told the truth about America, and about themselves—goes shooting down in flames.
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksIf we are prepared to see the air let out of Patrick’s tires a little bit—maybe more than a little bit—well, that’s largely because a million other books and movies and TV shows about Hollywood have led us to expect as much. Kleeman’s eye is deft enough, her senses of satire and proportion sufficiently stropped, that I wouldn’t have minded if that’s what she did. Her descriptions of Cassidy’s filmography and of Patrick’s bibliography are plausibly funny — or rather, are just implausible enough to be funny — and her ear for the cinephilic bickering of the PAs and the greasy reassurances of the producers are likewise on point. It’s tempting, at the beginning of the novel, to relax, to settle in for the ride that will lead Patrick Hamlin toward his inevitable comeuppance ... Kleeman’s great skill, and this novel’s abiding triumph, is how seamlessly she blends the horrific with the mundanely troubling, the ridiculous — or the impossible — with the ordinarily absurd ... Kleeman’s unraveling of this plot is satisfying enough, but she’s no more interested in writing a noir than she is a conventional Hollywood satire. What is really happening here — what Kleeman has ultimately in mind — should be kept under wraps to some extent, but it’s worth noting that the world she describes, despite its occasional exaggerations, remains a canny mirror of our own.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewPompous, opinionated, self-conscious, self-loathing, B. is an astonishing creation: a volcano of ridiculous opinions and absurd neuroses, a balding, bearded nightmare of a person whose involutions could practically carry a 700-page narrative by themselves because they, and he, are so riotously funny ... Anyone who’s ever seen a Charlie Kaufman film will recognize the landscape here: a loose-but-faithless representation of \'reality\' that ripples with psychedelic strangeness ... If only this summary did any kind of justice to the ferocious comedic energy of the book’s opening, or prepared one for the imaginative maelstrom to follow. It must be said that, by any standard — and even for someone who remembers the shock of Kaufman’s work when it was passed around Hollywood as unproduced samizdat in the 1990s — Antkind is an exceptionally strange book. It is also an exceptionally good one, and though one is tempted to reach for the roster of comparably gnostic novels by contemporary (-ish) writers — not just Wallace, but Pynchon, obviously; John Barth; Joshua Cohen, perhaps — such comparisons inevitably collapse ... The novel’s doublings and redoublings are sometimes confounding, its perversions of an already-perverse reality so lavish as to verge on the gratuitous, and yet. …I’m hard-pressed to call the book \'difficult,\' simply because its portrait of B. is so oddly humane and because its baseline energies are closer to those of a Tex Avery cartoon (or an Abbott and Costello routine) than they are to the dauntingly postmodern tradition of which the book also partakes ... Even at its most hallucinogenic, <Antkind remains appealingly earthy ... In a world that is endlessly reshaping itself in the grips of malign and incomprehensible powers, we are all hapless Punchinellos, like B. And yet it is only through being such that we can find — as Kaufman’s novel does, too — anything resembling grace.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksHe may or may not have felt it to be, but his first novel, Heather, the Totality, has a rare effortlessness and command of the mechanics of fiction ...has a fable-like clarity and economy, but also the unsettling psychological penetration one would find in James, Patricia Highsmith, or Graham Greene, one of the late 19th- or 20th-century masters of cognitive vivisection ...the novel’s mood shifts and bends; it modulates into notes that are pensive, melancholy, often stringent, occasionally warm; and its ending manages to be at once harrowing and disturbingly contemplative ...spare, almost skeletal; there’s almost no dialogue, and very little visual description, two things one might expect from a seasoned television writer. Instead, there is a relentless interiority, a patient strobing of first one person’s consciousness, and then the next ...an unqualified success.