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Hollywood Animal: A Memoir [Hardcover]

Joe Eszterhas
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

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3.0 out of 5 stars A story of greed July 11 2004
Joe Eszterhas had it all, and more, and then blew it in a mysterious way. He found happiness with the woman he calls the sexiest on the planet (Naomi) and seems now to have retired from the business of screenwriting, a business which made him the highest paid screenwriter in the world--not once, but twice. He has left a legacy of interesting films, some good, some bad, but his memoir of writing them (and of his cathartic childhood, the son of Hungarian emigres) is just plain stupendous. It's one book that should have been two, or possibly three.
If you wrote, "Jagged Edge," "Flashdance," and or "Basic Instinct," to name only the hits, wouldn't you try to be more discreet about it? And the flops are a true laundry list of disaster. Only in Hollywood could such an auteur not only survive, but thrive. Very few screenwriters can boast of having sex with Sharon Stone, but Joe E. really rubs it in. For all that, his picture of Marty Ransohoff trying to destroy the life and career of Glenn Close is truly a memorable one. I guess Ransohoff won after all, because today one hears as little of Glenn Close as one does of Joe Eszterhas. If you like Hungarian sentiment, add a star. This is almost the Magyar version of Allen Ginsberg's "Kaddish."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't stop for commercial break-- addictive read! June 27 2004
This book is so much more than a Hollwyood tell-all. For one thing, it's just terrifically written-- not "terrifically written for a Hollywood hack," but "terrifically written," period. Eszterhas' style is succinct, surprising and vivid. Some think he's boasting that he admires Salinger, Faulkner and Hemingway-- but Eszterhas writes terrific prose. He seems to be speaking directly, but his details are surprising and vivid. I haven't read his journalism, but I bet his articles were great.
He alternates chapters about Hollywood (which are yes, fascinating and appalling) with chapters called "flashback" about his dirt-poor and often difficult childhood as Hungarian immigrant in Cleveland, and brief, italicized sections called "close-ups" that are portraits of unnamed Hollywood personalities (a poolcleaner, a vice president, an actress).
It's a long book, but because of the way it's structured, it's a quick read (well, it took me a few weeks to get through it, but each time I'd pick it up I'd read 60-70 pages before I could bear to put it down). Ezsterhas includes verbatim hatchet-letters he's written to agents and producers who've offended him-- including one hilarious letter to Mike Ovitz that sets off a feud that is a running theme throughout the book. And while Ezsterhas is articulate and hilarious, any reader-- including apparently Ezsterhas himself-- can see that he's also defensive, arrogant and difficult as hell.
You can't help liking him anyway.
Even as he recounts episodes of cheating on his first wife. Even as he recounts painful alienations from friends and family that he is at least partially responsible for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplar of an Autobiography June 18 2004
By A Customer
This is a great book for anyone who loves frank tales about Hollywood and its creatures. It's 736 pages long but a very fast read, full of anecdotes and interwoven story lines.
One thing that I look for in an autobiography is the personality of the author pulsing through the words on the page. Sometimes this means that the author doesn't come off too well --read Joan Rivers' autobiography for a particularly unpleasant example -- but it makes for a much more involving read. Joe's personality roars off the page.
Joe Eszterhas' book paints a vivid, searingly honest portrait of a man who is smart, tough, talented, rude, brave, harsh, perceptive and surprisingly principled. He is a big family man who cruelly betrayed his first wife and paid a big price for that (literally and emotionally), only to start a new family with "the love of his life" -- Naomi (his wife's friend) who was dumped by her husband Bill (Joe's friend) for Sharon Stone. Yes, Bill is the guy that Sharon promised to marry and then dumped following all the Basic Instinct madness.
Joe has written some great stuff and some sleazy stuff. He poured his guts into his stories and yet managed to not have his heart broken (he claims) when some of what he wrote was mangled by others. Of course, sometimes he did the mangling -- anybody see "Burn Hollywood Burn"? Jeez! I felt bad for Joe when after writing the wonderful "Music Box" script, Joe learned late in life and most ironically that his own father was an anti-Jewish hate monger in WWII. How could a father who was so supportive and loving to his own family turn out to be so heartless toward his Jewish neighbors?
As a writer, I most appreciated Joe's insights into the writing and marketing aspects of his career.
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5.0 out of 5 stars COMPELING IMMIGRANT/HOLLYWOOD STORY June 9 2004
Writer Joe Eszterhas has written a thorough and extremely interesting biography here with HOLLYWOOD ANIMAL. I was amazed by the inner working of Hollywood and his rise to prominence in the film-making community. It is all very interesting.
Though I enjoyed reading how Joe overcame adversity, coming to America a Hungarian refuged, determined to learn English and function in America, I was a bit turned off by his chronic infidelity. Joe goes into laborious detail how he cheated on his first wife Gerri with this starlet or that bimbo, but is quick to forgive himself as "lonely" when he eventually settles down with the former wife of a family friend and quickly produces four boys.
Joe is less forgiving of his father who turned out to be a Nazi sympathizer who fled to America to escape war-crime charges. I guess its an individual's perception of circumstances when deciding which sinners to forgive.
Though an opus, over 700 detailed pages, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about Hollywood behind the scenes, the world of a screen writer, and the undeniable success of an immigrant making it in America.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars HOLLYWOOD EXPOSED
On camera the sets in Hollywood look glamorous and ornate, but behind the camera they are just cardboard and plywood facades with nothing behind them. Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2005 by Adrienne Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars What a LIFE!
This book should be a must-read for all people heading for Hollywood. Not only is it a success story, rags to riches, it's also a cautionary tale on life in the... Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2004 by Susie Sharon
5.0 out of 5 stars Run Buy This
This book is superb. It is hard to put down. I don't always agree with him but he appears to be very honest. He has the courage to tell it like it is and name names.
Published on July 3 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Addictively Entertaining
One of Hollywood's highest paid, record-breaking screenplay writers, Joe Eszterhas recounts his life. Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by Michael J Baio
4.0 out of 5 stars Very True
A great true-to-life, no appologies story about the real way the entertainment world works. Forget about glamour and sparkles. Read more
Published on June 23 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Screenwriter Propaganda with Dirty Stories Attached
Joe Eszterhas has an engaging prose style much simlilar to Bukowski in content as well as sentence structure. The book reads quickly so do not be daunted by its 730 plus pages. Read more
Published on June 7 2004 by Adam M Rose
3.0 out of 5 stars Four stories for the price of one
I'm a sucker for the shenanigans that accompany the genesis then acceptance and then production of a film, hollywood style, and this part of Hollywood Animal is a gripping,... Read more
Published on May 29 2004 by Ian Muldoon
4.0 out of 5 stars It�s guys like this that make Hollywood what it is.
This is a big but fast-reading book that should appeal to those who enjoy behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Read more
Published on May 18 2004 by Keith Nichols
4.0 out of 5 stars So much more than I bargained for....
I will be the first to admit that I bought this book because it was touted as "THE MUST READ Hollywood TELL-ALL." Then I started reading it... Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by A. Marbach
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