Sunday, September 6, 2009

Zeroville by Steve Erickson **

It's the 1970s and Ike Jerome so loves The Movies, he takes the long bus ride from Pennsylvania, only to discover that people in Hollywood are ignorant of the The Movies; they're into The Sound: Punk Rock. Ike Jerome, aka Vikar, has Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, in a scene from A Place in the Sun tattooed on his shaved head. Zeroville by Steve Erickson, written by an LA film critic for film geeks, is full of Hollywood inside gossip and fantasy with mentions for dozens of films, actors, and directors over the entire history of film making.
I'm more a Huston/Hawks/Ford/Walsh/Kurosawa man.
The main character is this barbarian-type in animal furs with horns on his head as played by this preposterous Austrian body-builder so muscle-bound he literally can't hold the sword, but his is getting blown on a semi-regular basis by one of the Kennedy women, rumor has it.
All this real and imagined trivia enhances the story. The story is presented like a screenplay in 454 fast-cut shots numbered by one to 227 and then from 226 back down to zero. Vikar is a film editor who believes that films exist outside of time and has a favorite expression: "F-ck continuity."

Two themes about art appreciation intertwine throughout the story. First: new, creative works initially elicit hate, but after many exposures, you learn to love them. And the second, sounding like the author's explanation to his novel approach to a novel:
He said the first ten minutes he thought you were completely incompetent but by the time he got to the end he knew that wasn't it. He said he has no idea whether the picture is working or any good but that every decision you're making is original as best and counterintuitive at the least. [Note: this is the original punctuation]
Certain not a book for the faint hearted, but if you'd like to read something different ...

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