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Rudolph Wurlitzer: Slow Fade

Wurlitzer made his career as a scriptwriter and, in this book, he uses his knowledge of Hollywood and film-making to good effect. There is an obvious comparison with Nathaniel West‘s Day of the Locust. As in West’s novel, Wurlitzer focuses on the seamier side of Hollywood and sees few if any redeeming features in Hollywood, Hollywood people and their ways. And, as with West and his own previous novels, there is no hope, no way out. The story is about Wesley Hardin, a long-time director of Westerns, possibly based on Sam Peckinpah and compared to Howard Hawks and John Ford. He has made almost forty films and is now shooting another Western but, of course, it is all going to hell. He is over budget, his son is just back from India, where his sister has gone, and with bad news, his young wife is playing up and long-time hustler A D Ballou is giving him a hard time. Of course, the point, as in his other books, is to show how seriously fucked-up the American Dream is and Hollywood and the film-making business is a good a way as any other to illustrate that. And he does illustrate it and illustrate it well. To quote another critic of the American Dream No-one here gets out alive and Wurlitzer certainly lets us know that.

Publishing history

First published 1984 by Knopf