The Holden Age of Hollywood Book Review and Interview

PhotobucketThe Holden Age of Hollywood

Phil Brody

Contemporary Fiction

July 2012

296 Pages

About the Book:

Hollywood died on me as soon as I got here. Welles said that, not me, but damn if he didn’t nail it, you know?

Sam Bateman came to Hollywood to settle a score, but amidst the sunny and 75, his plans went astray. Everything changed the day he drank in the intoxicating legend of Meyer Holden, the greatest screenwriter Hollywood has ever known, the one who pulled a Salinger and walked away. Holden now tacks pseudonyms onto his works and buries them in the bottomless sea of spec that is Hollywood’s development process. They’re out there for anyone to find—but at what cost? In his quest, Bateman severs all ties and sinks into a maddening world of bad writing and flawed screenplays. Paranoid and obsessive, the belligerent savant encounters an eccentric cast of characters—each with an agenda—in his search for the one writer in Hollywood who does not want to be found.

My Review:

From the very first page, Sam Bateman, the protagonist of The Holden Age of Hollywood, reminded me of a hard-boiled detective, a post-modern Philip Marlowe.  In fact, Phil Brody’s style of writing has been called “neo-noir”, a term, I assumed coined to describe this modern-day film-noir type.  I loved the snappy dialogue and the footnotes explaining screenwriting jargon and Hollywood “in-jokes” for those of us not in the know.

Only a phenomenal writer could write so many bad script synopses so hilariously well.  And Phil Brody is that evil genius.  Here’s just one example:

 My Date with Minka by Bobby Wickford is an inane comedy about Billy Wackforth’s attempt to score a date with TV/film star Minka Kelly with the help of his good friend Sally Crenshaw. In the end, he goes on the date and mind-bogglingly wins the starlet over, then breaks her heart when he realizes he’s in “serious like” with good friend Sally. Ugh. Surprised it’s not written in crayon.

The Holden Age of Hollywood is a page-turning, tongue-in-cheek look into the often corrupt, but sometimes brilliant, and frequently overlooked world of cinematic pre-production.

I give The Holden Age of Hollywood five golden statuettes!!  A must read!!

About the Author:

Phil Brody lives in Los Angeles and writes every day. He began his career in Chicago in advertising. After moving to LA, Brody toiled in development, penned a few spec scripts, and has worked as a writer, producer, and director in documentary TV. His short film, A Blue Christmas, was the grand prize winner in The Short Film Group’s First Annual Script Competition and was acknowledged in the WorldFest-Houston and Cleveland International Film
Festivals. Brody is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio and an alumnus of Writers Boot Camp in Santa Monica, California. The Holden Age of Hollywood is his first novel.

Interview with the Author:

TM: What sparked the idea for The Holden Age of Hollywood?

PB: I wanted to write about Hollywood. I think any writer that spends enough time here — or does time in Hollywood, as I like to say — yearns to write about it. However, I did not want to write a “typical” Hollywood book about down-and-out talent struggling to be discovered. That is a story I have seen all too often and think it’s played out. However, when I stumbled upon a way to turn that world upside down and analyze it — via “searching for the one writer in Hollywood who does not want to be found” — I ran with it.

TM: Is any of the book based on your life’s experiences?

PB: No. It’s a work of fiction. The book is an allegory or extended metaphor for that creative battle those chasing the dream out here endure. There are, of course, some experiences, people, and places injected into the prose. However, the characters and plot are all derived from my imagination. Having said that, after reading, people often ask, ‘is this character based on you or so-and-so?’ But that just tells me I’ve written something that’s resonating with people. And that makes me happy.

TM:  What is your writing routine?

PB: I’m an early riser. My days typically begins at 6 A.M. I do my best writing in the morning and usually write until around 10. That’s when I take a break and hike in nearby Runyon Canyon, which helps clear my head and recharge the creative batteries. Usually, if things are going well with a project, my characters talk to me throughout my hike and I cannot wait to get my fingers back to my computer keyboard to write some more. That second stretch of writing can last from two to five hours or more, depends on that day. I know a lot writer’s like to write at night, but in that situation, you’re ultimately going to hit a wall with your energy level, which I find frustrating. I enjoy starting in the A.M. with the entire day in front of me.

TM: What advice do you have for aspiring novelists?

PB: 1. Just write.  Write whatever is scratching at your brain to get out. Don’t talk yourself out of it or edit yourself along the way. Get that first draft onto the page. Period.
2. Upon ‘finishing’ your first draft, there’s still a lot of work to be done. You have to polish and edit, and my advice is to find someone you trust to help with that process.
3. When the manuscript is ready, a compelling query letter is key, along with perseverance.
4. If you don’t believe in your book, you won’t succeed in selling your book.

TM: Tell me about any upcoming projects.

PB: The marketing/promotion of The Holden Age of Hollywood has been keeping me busy, but am finding time to write my second novel. It’s not connected to The Holden Age of Hollywood in any way, other than both stories are set in LA. Like Holden, the new book combines genres. It’s called The Dog Wonder, and this time it’s part thriller, part detective novel, an unexpected love story, and a quest to prove a theory as to why man’s best friend would ever attack their friend. Did I succeed in hooking your interest? Hope so.

Follow Phil Brody on Facebook/Twitter/Blog/Goodreads

I received a review copy of this book for the purpose of the interview thanks to Innovative Online Book Tours.  Regardless, all opinions are mine.

Craigslist Scams and Tricks to Avoid

Craigslist can be an easy way to buy items you really need and/or want.  It can also be an easy (and free) way to sell some of that junk that’s cluttering up your house.  But as with any transaction where money exchanges hands, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).  Here are some scams to look out for when shopping on Craigslist:

  •  Rental Housing Scam

Rental agencies frequently list their available properties on Craigslist.  But beware of those listings that look good to be true.  Is the rent significantly less than comparable properties?  While we were looking for our current rental, we found two different properties listed on Craigslist which were priced lower than similar houses and the only contact was by email.  When we drove by the properties we saw “For Sale” signs on the front lawns.  Contacting the “seller” returned a form email which stated that they were out of the country on business, please ignore the for sale sign which they had forgotten to have removed before they left, and that if we mailed them the attached application with a cashier’s check for the first month’s rent and security deposit then they would gladly mail us the keys.  Needless to say, we did not follow through with either of these listings, except to report them to Craigslist as fraudulent.

  • Lemon Scam

ugly carAgain, many legitimate car lots list their inventory on Craigslist, and so do many honest, hard-working individuals who just want to get the best price for their 1992 Volvo so they can finally invest in a new car.  But there are also scammers out there.  Unfortunately, our family found this out the hard way.  But that’s a story for another day.  The most important thing to remember when buying a car from an individual is that they should have a smog certificate for the car dated within the past 90 days.  You should also run the Vehicle Identification Number through Carfax or similar to make sure it has a clean title and has it been in any serious accidents.  Lastly, I would take a mechanically-minded person along to check for any obvious problems.

  • Ticket Scam

In this scam, the buyer promises event tickets, or airline tickets, but what the buyer actually gets are either forgeries or previously used tickets.  Remember that airline tickets can only be used by the person whose name is printed on the face of the ticket.  For event tickets, ask to see a copy of the seller’s receipt from his or her original purchase verifying that the tickets are for the date and place you were told.

  • Payment Scam

money scamThe seller asks you to wire the money (via Western Union or similar) or send a personal check before they will send you the merchandise.  Or the buyer wants to pay with a money order or personal check.  Transactions should only be paid via cash (make sure you know how to check for counterfeit bills – see Eight Ways to Spot Counterfeit Money for more details.), cashier’s check or Paypal.

  • Robbery (or worse) Scam

Only meet a seller in a public place.  Never enter an unknown seller’s house or allow an unknown buyer to enter your house. ‘Nuff said.

Have you ever been scammed on Craigslist or do you have any more suggestions on how to avoid being scammed?  Please let me know in a comment.