Specktor writes honestly and cogently about each artist’s life as he weaves in his own foibles and experiences as an artist, father, son, and friend ... Specktor masterfully orients the reader within the West Hollywood landscape ... The only flaw in Always Crashing is that, at times, the author’s flashbacks distract the reader from the organic flow of the prose, necessitating a reread. However, Specktor accomplishes what he set out to do: to provide an intimate study of nine artists of diverse talent who had an impact on him.
Specktor makes a habit of stripping away the protective coating of euphemism. But it isn’t all subtraction; he also offers moments of nurturing clarity ... Writing through his troubles, Specktor offers consolatory beauty.
This is a fabulous book, beautiful, generous, sombre and wise, a wistful romance about a man writing a book like Always Crashing in the Same Car. Don’t fall for that subtitle—a mere concession to academic access and what used to be called the zeitgeist. As if a book as good as this can really be expected to flourish. As if, even in LA, there is a crowd waiting for a medita ... in some ways a work of critical commentary, as mind-expanding as a perfect peach (eat it now—by tomorrow it may be going off). But it is also a novel posing as a memoir, with scenes so gentle that the foreboding takes a second or so to creep in ... In the rest of this book, this elegy to failure, Specktor will deliver essays on some of the lives and losses he has been captivated by, held under the sway of people who were never exactly there. There’s a moment’s misgiving as we wonder if this is a set-up for pure puffery. Don’t fret: the peaches are all from the same tree, with secrets about creative careers piercing the reverie of what it has been to be Matthew Specktor, ever yearning and searching for ‘success’, knowing all the while that the swimming pool was waiting. The book is not reliable as biography, but the lives discussed did not organise themselves around facts, or any thought that these people knew what was happening to them. We know the scenario is evolving out of reach. We make stuff up.