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Hollywood: A Third Memoir [Paperback]

Larry McMurtry

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Book Description

Aug. 16 2011
"One thing I’ve always liked about Hollywood is its zip, or speed. The whole industry depends to some extent on talent spotting. The hundreds of agents, studio executives, and producers who roam the streets of the city of Los Angeles let very little in the way of talent slip by."

In this final installment of the memoir trilogy that includes Books and Literary Life, Larry McMurtry, "the master of the show-stopping anecdote" (O: The Oprah Magazine) turns his own keenly observing eye to his rollercoaster romance with Hollywood. As both the creator of numerous works successfully adapted by others for film and television (Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, and the Emmy-nominated The Murder of Mary Phagan) and the author of screenplays including The Last Picture Show (with Peter Bogdanovich), Streets of Laredo, and the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (both with longtime writing partner Diana Ossana), McMurtry has seen all the triumphs and frustrations that Tinseltown has to offer a writer, and he recounts them in a voice unfettered by sentiment and yet tinged with his characteristic wry humor.

Beginning with his sudden entrée into the world of film as the author of Horseman, Pass By—adapted into the Paul Newman–starring Hud in 1963—McMurtry regales readers with anecdotes that find him holding hands with Cybill Shepherd, watching Jennifer Garner’s audition tape, and taking lunch at Chasen’s again and again. McMurtry fans and Hollywood hopefuls alike will find much to cherish in these pages, as McMurtry illuminates life behind the scenes in America’s dream factory.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Aug. 16 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439159963
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439159965
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #741,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What Happened to Book Editors? Aug. 11 2010
By Claire S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
McMurtry is one of my favorite authors of all time. He can be a brilliant craftsman. He created some of the best characters in American literature. And he CAN tell a compelling and memorable story. But he doesn't most of the time any more. Hollywood is jumbled in time, phrase, and subject. It's disorganized, and there aren't enough moments of insight or brilliance to justify the price or time to read it. I think McMurtry is writing on fumes. Here is a case in point. Toward the end of the book he describes the days before,during, and after winning several Oscars for Brokeback Mountain. But those moments are interspersed (for no apparent reason) with bits and pieces of other, unrelated, memories. I was just left wondering why his editor didn't step in with some organizational suggestions. In the end, I felt that the book was like a bowl of jello -- pleasant enough, a little jiggle here and there, but otherwise bland and unmemorable.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thin, Thinner, Thinnest Aug. 12 2010
By Did - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
McMurtry's last in his memoir trilogy can only be described as the thinnest of tomes in thought and length. If he were to write a fourth installment, it could be done on a sheet or two of paper tripled-spaced. As it is, he seemed to have written his last installment as a few hasty emails to his editor.

I've enjoyed both McMurtry's fiction and non-fiction over the years, but he has slowed down considerably. It's sad to read him as his writing days dwindle down to a precious few.

He's had a long, prolific, illustrious career, for which I am thankful.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An unpretentious look at a writer's career in Hollywood Aug. 14 2010
By Robert Tucker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This third installment of memoirs by the brilliant and eclectic author Larry McMurtry is a brief look at his life in Hollywood as a screenwriter and owner of several books made into movies. Somewhat anecdotally, McMurtry traces his early beginnings in Hollywood, following the path of writing, awards, challenges, disappointments and situations up to the present time. Forthright, authentic, and personal writing adorn the pages of this little book providing a glimpse into the maze of Hollywood and its unforgiving theater. Using short chapters (Chapter 26 is my favorite), McMurtry almost randomly gives wings to his failures as well as his fortunes. It makes for light reading with insightful moments, alternating between the amusing and the poignant.

McMurtry's style of non-fiction writing often feels as though he is gathered in the living room telling stories to people sipping coffee. This makes for an almost folksy, yet highly intelligent approach to writing that touches on several levels. Fun stories abound and we learn about the people in his life in Hollywood and are amazed by the myriad of experiences he had in his career. Flirting with glamour, McMurtry also seems to resist the limelight, finding the life in Hollywood to be shallow and silly at times. His admiration for certain stars--Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson to name two is offset by his disappointment in certain producers, writers, and stars (although he does a good job of avoiding direct criticism). It makes for an enriching read for anyone seeking to understand the world of screenwriting and movie making. Many of the events chronicled are stunning--the salary for a screenplay, the complexities of agents, the time spent making a film, and the attitudes toward writers. All refreshing insights for sure.

On a deeper level, we marvel at the skill and talent of a writer whose works have found their place in Hollywood, television, and bookstores throughout the world. A writer of modern fiction, Westerns, history, essays, and screenplays, his achievements are remarkable. In spite of the light reading and brevity of this book, readers should and can be in awe at the marvelous career of Larry McMurtry.

That said, this book is 146 pages of recollections and stories about people and events. While entertaining, it misses the mark on emotional content and we never quite connect to the anguish nor the successes. Almost as though we are taking a tour and hearing about McMurtry's life in Hollywood from a tour guide. We may be curious as to the anxieties, fears, and elations of McMurtry's world of Hollywood, but this book does not satisfy that curiosity. Yet, to be fair, much of his writing style in fiction and non-fiction is presented in a cavalier manner, forcing the reader to find the emotion in the people and in the situations. One of the best lines occurs on page 71, "Best not to professionalize a passion, as lovers the world over have discovered when they marry and notice a cooling."

I enjoyed this book and am glad to have read it (kind of expensive for 146 pages), but of the three, I enjoyed Books the most. In fact, it is intriguing that throughout this book about Hollywood, the love of books continues to shine. In the end, in spite of the tremendous successes McMurtry has had as a writer and a recipient of numerous awards, his true love seems to be books. When you drop a book scout into Hollywood, he is still ultimately a book scout. Recommended for McMurtry fans and anyone interested in the process of screen and script writing.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a lot of new information Aug. 22 2010
By H.P. Louris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was really disappointed by this book because I'm a fan of Larry McMurtry's and feel that I have paid for books before that had most of these stories in them, notably "Film Flam." It's not that he's not interesting and there isn't more information here, but I wish I'd checked it out at the library instead of purchasing it because I knew a lot of the stuff about the making of "Hud" and "Last Picture Show" as the author has written about them before.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars slight, but fun Aug. 30 2010
By kevnm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The more people know and like McMurtry, the less they seem to like this book. His fans apparently expect a lot more than this slight, casual set of rememberances about screenwriting and Hollywood.

I'm aware of McMurtry, of course, but haven't read his fiction. I picked this up (at the library)and breezed through it in a pleasant few hours. The brevity and simplicity of the prose are indicative of McMurtry's great skill as a writer and his subtle humor makes the short trip even more enjoyable.

A light, but not tossed-off, book of reflections by a charming memoirist.

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