When authors write from a different gender perspective, it’s a difficult challenge. We are different. We see things differently, we feel things differently, we say things differently, and we hide things differently. There are over-generalizations but there are also under-generalizations. Sometimes a female writer will try to act too male or not male enough, talk too much about sex or not at all and too much about food. But honestly, I didn’t know until a hundred pages in when I noticed the author’s picture on the back of the book. At the same time, there are guys who are overly macho and guys who are overly effeminate. Then there are guys like me, raised only around women, and I notice that sometimes I can be overly macho or overly effeminate, often unconsciously.
It is possible that this female author writing as a male narrator is more honest as the guy. She’s honest about admitting to raping his wife and constantly losing his temper and throwing shit against a wall. I’d imagine that a guy would tend to downplay those things or overlook them entirely. Perhaps the author has been exposed to such a guy. It’s hard to imagine that authors just make shit up out of thin air and not their personal lives. Sometimes you can tell when they make shit up out of thin air or borrow it from TV or the movies. The narrator is basically an anti-social, autistic, self-obsessed, introvert pretending to be an extrovert Hollywood agent asshole. The novel is written in bits of memories while he is in some mental ward receiving electro-shock therapy. It spans his entire life from childhood to the close present and spans his world travels and his family. It often comes across as self-obsessed and hence boring. The narrator is anti-social. While his travels are interesting, they are typical of an anti-social rich, entitled American. He goes to sex joints in Bangkok and he gets scammed and everything he has is stolen in the Middle East. He forms no real lasting relationships except a dysfunctional abusive one with his wife. He is merely a plastic shopping bag drifting through the winds of life. I had to skim most of it. I don’t know what it is with Hollywood and cocaine. Every big party in Hollywood apparently involves cocaine as well as a smorgasbord of hot young blondes trying to make it into the business by snorting and blowing every old, connected guy in sight. The glamour is the sell, the Hollywood lifestyle is the sell, the drugs, alcohol, parties, hot women, but the reality is the carnival of antisocial assholes preying on other antisocial oddballs who never got enough attention in high school because they weren’t part of the popular crowd, and now they want to become famous in Hollywood and get into the ultimate popular crowd of the universe. Yes, I was part of that grind. I spent a short time in “Hollywood” as an extra and aspiring actor. FYI, “Hollywood” is a broad term to cover the entire entertainment industry in Los Angeles that includes Hollywood but is spread out through all of Los Angeles and Burbank. While many aspiring actors do instinctively move to Hollywood, and it is a great relatively affordable central location, actors wind up driving all over Los Angeles for auditions and jobs.
Another important topic is Jews and Hollywood. Yes, there are a lot of Jews in Hollywood, but all you see are the Jews on top. If you have money to invest, Hollywood is probably worse than a bar or restaurant. These should all be considered charities until you get to the very top when they start making a profit and then in a very lopsided way, only the top of the top make more than the remaining 99%. Fact is, most movies made never make it to the movie theaters and go straight to DVD and even then, many are not sold. Almost every movie made will lose money. Almost every bar or restaurant opened will lose money in the long run. So why do movies get made? Why do people open bars and restaurants? It’s simple. People would rather work their asses off while losing all their savings for something they believe in and dream about than a 9 to 5 job where their souls are crushed but well compensated. Not everyone loses money, just the investors. The actors often work for free, but many get the minimum daily compensation and fed by the food trucks. The production crew gets paid near minimum wage. Just like the bartenders, cooks, and waiters get paid and make a low-income living. The investors are also often doing it not to make money but to be part of the scene. The owner of the restaurant may put his name on it and get the best table in the house and be able to get in VIPs and then mingle with them. The maker of a movie gets to hang out with the actors and get invited to their parties and of course, there is the side benefit of sleeping with some of them. So you don’t get to see the countless Jews who lose their money or the actors who work as waiters and bartenders in Hollywood and will never make it big but get by on their small wages. You find minorities in all the high work, high risk, but big payoff industries of sports, arts, entertainment, and high-risk securities. There used to be a lot of Jewish athletes, and now there are a lot of black athletes. There’s a reason there are so many Irish bars, Italian restaurants, and Chinese restaurants. Back in the day, and to a certain extent today, the most secure, best paying jobs were reserved for the establishment whites, the early immigrants, the English and then the Germans. Jews even were not allowed into most of the Ivy League schools. Times have mostly changed, but minority parents are still telling their kids the same thing. Dream big or go home. Be the best or nothing at all. Go all in. Put everything on the line. Forget friends. Forget a good family life. Try to make as much money as you can and become famous. Be the best, get a Nobel, an Olympic gold, an Oscar, etc. Unfortunately, today with so many opportunities for everyone, the advice is misguided. After reading the biography of Murray Gell Mann, even after winning the Nobel Prize, he was not on top of the world. Richer and more famous, yes, but equally as competitive, antisocial, anxious, neurotic, and selfish as well. Life is not the trophy but the journey. Likewise, the narrator in this novel leads an exciting albeit lonely, asshole life, and even the exciting moments are not really all that exciting. Honestly, I’ve had more exciting moments in a month than this entire novel.
I was reading this book on the plane trip to and from Vegas. A few years back, right after the Cosmopolitan had opened, I went there with a couple locals who had moved from Reno. My mind was blown. It was the apex of cosmopolitan, Sex and the City, luxury and flamboyance the likes of which I had not experienced in such a grand complex outside of say Rodeo Drive or Upper West Side Manhattan or any upper class neighborhood, but this was accessible to the younger, poorer crowd, actually specifically tailored for them. I thought I was on top of the world. In a sense I was, but it was ephemeral and fleeting and expensive. When I go back now, the foam is gone and now it’s flatter. I often go back alone. What I remember most was the people experience, the two women I was with. But when you go back alone, it’s empty, empty materialism. I look at the people there with their expensive brand shopping bags and I wonder, is it all complementary to your wonderful social life or is it all on your overburdened credit card and filling that huge hole in your life called a social life? Did you spend all your youth alone studying and then working 60 to 80 hours a week so you could finally afford this luxury trip to Vegas and buy Versace and Fendi and Jimmy Choo and for guys, bottle service and escorts? Was it all worth it? Or do you keep spending more and more trying to justify all the time you spent sacrificing for it all? After reading a biography of Dennis Hof, the guy who owns the Bunny Ranch brothel, I wonder, all these rich guys wasting their money on escorts who pretend to be in a meaningful relationship with them, is that the final payoff? All those years when you were not honing your social skills but your legal skills, medical skills, banking skills, you’re now a 50 or 60-year-old rich bastard, after all those years ruthlessly climbing to the top, now you finally get to rest and blow thousands on hookers or designer dresses. Is that the final payoff? Or a Nobel Prize? It seems to me that you have to believe it was all a lie, but whether you accept the lie or not, you console yourself with insanely expensive luxury suites, dinners, drinks, hookers, and drugs. Now, you might say, well, that doesn’t sound so bad, but then I would say, but you’re old. It’s different, an old person partying and trying to enjoy the fruits of his labors and a young guy experiencing a modest yet incredible party and not blowing thousands of dollars. I saw one dude at a table in a club making dollar bills rain. Maybe even five dollar bills or tens, who knows. But really?
If I had kids, my advice would be to work hard and smart, but don’t lose sight of the prize. The prize is your relationships and social skills. Hone those. I’m not talking about going out and partying and getting wasted, because that is not honing any skill. I’m talking about going to coffee with a friend or dating or helping your friend move or doing some volunteer work. Don’t spend all your time studying and working, because you should be enjoying the journey, because that is really all there is to life. At the very end, nobody gets their points added up, their wealth counted, their hours credited. In the end, the end. Get it? The end. Enjoy the journey. In this novel, the dude wound up in the mental ward because he could never enjoy the journey. He was mistaken in believing that it was not about the journey and the connections and relationships in that journey that mattered. Without giving away the ending, he wonders in the end about what he is finally feeling, and it’s love. When you can’t get it at first, you try everything in life to fill it, drugs, parties, hookers, alcohol, excitement, fame, glamour, materialism, food, trends, religion, politics, philosophy, books, movies, songs, art, but in the end, you realize, there’s nothing that can replace love. All those things, we do in the meantime to pass the time. But those of us with unloving parents are not doomed so long as we don’t lose ourselves trying to fill the hole with everything else, so long as we realize this and then work hard to find and keep love, it’s possible. Then everything isn’t supposed to replace love but complement it. When you go to Vegas, the whole Vegas thing is supposed to be a nice, relaxing weekend to enjoy with a loved one. For those without love, you keep partying to fill a bottomless pit, and when you realize it will never get full, it’s too late, you’re blacked out.