American Dream Machine and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
$12.54
Qty:1
  • List Price: $25.95
  • Save: $13.41 (52%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
American Dream Machine has been added to your Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

American Dream Machine Hardcover – March 26, 2013


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$12.54
$3.49 $0.01

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Check out The Amazon Book Review, our editors' fresh new blog featuring interviews with authors, book reviews, quirky essays on book trends, and regular columns by our editors. Explore now
$12.54 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

American Dream Machine + The Interestings: A Novel
Price for both: $33.22

Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In his picaresque sophomore novel, Specktor (That Summertime Sound, 2009) portrays Beau Rosenwald, as seen or imagined through his son Nate’s ubiquitous perspective. It’s the early 1990s, an era marked by grunge music and slackerism. Through a haze of pot smoke and hangovers, aspiring writer Nate finds himself reflecting more and more on Beau, an overweight but ambitious dreamer who begrudgingly moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1962, a transformative time in cinema’s history, determined to break into the business end of the industry. Along with his friend Williams Farquarsen, a southern gentleman and fierce Hollywood-attorney, Beau lunges haphazardly after success. Despite his slovenly appearance, Beau wooed women and celebrities alike, establishing a name for himself as the driven, if not emotionally bared, talent agent who would change the business of film forever. As Nate recounts Beau’s passion and sexual escapades, he endeavors to decipher his paternal legacy. With coolness and precision, Specktor comes across as a West Coast Saul Bellow in this sweeping narrative, but his energetic, pop-infused prose is markedly his own. --Jonathan Fullmer

From Bookforum

American Dream Machine may be a bittersweet title, Specktor implies, but it's not necessarily an ironic one. He is the son of Creative Artists Agency's Fred Specktor, whose clients have included Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, and Gene Hackman. Most of these actors' names appear in American Dream Machine, attached to figures who may or may not represent their corporeal forms. The first star spotted is George Clooney, or a guy who looks like George Clooney, in a restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, "puking in one of the ficuses back by the men's room." With all its mischevious celebrity cameos, the book seems to be staking out a middle ground between fan fiction and J.G. Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition. There's a tantalizing fragrance of mystery and glamour wafting up through many of the novel's pages, which may be enough to compel a reader to keep tearing through them, especially a reader who lacks an all-acess pass to the Hollywood dream machine. But in setting out to overthrow an earlier model—in this case, a standard depiction of Hollywood as bleak, hollow, a screaming void—Specktor has instead managed to mimic that model, without reflecting its merits.—Jessica Winter
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Gold Box Deal of the Day: Up to 80% Off Fiction Favorites
Today only, more than 15 fiction favorites are up to 80% off on Kindle. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Tin House Books (March 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935639447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935639442
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

I thought this book was boring.
Vicky Schmidt
The prose is well done, very contemporary, and the story is sweeping, encompassing many lives in one novel.
maeved23
It's one of the most beautiful books I've read in a long, long time.
D. Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By John Hilgart on March 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Oh, man, what a big, delicious book. I read Specktor's previous novel and found his sentences to be superb and his scenes potently evocative. It was very easy to inhabit Specktor's writing, to be sucked into it. But that earlier novel was a delicate evocation of (and dismantling of) a college summer, set to a rock and roll soundtrack. This time he decided to write a decade-spanning, multi-generational, "Hollywood Novel." The earlier novel was the best cigarette I ever smoked outside of a club where my favorite band was playing. This novel was going to be a family epic, mapped onto 40 years of Southern California and film industry history. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be the best PACK of cigarettes I ever smoked outside a film executive's office or while reclining in an empty pool in the hills.

The aromatic inhabitability of Specktor's scenes is still in full effect, but in "American Dream Machine," those scenes accumulate and interact as a puzzle working itself out into a real triple-decker of a novel. The reader and the guiding consciousness of the narrative walk together toward revelation. There's a quality of following a Nick Carraway figure through a much longer, weirder party than Gatsby ever mounted, with a larger cast of mystery men. In following the trails of those mystery men, the novel has a whisper of Raymond Chandler, tying the arbitrary together into the inevitability of many, intersecting, lived lives. At the plot- and thematic-integrity levels, this novel hits both simultaneously. At the end, you're both satisfied and thoughtful about things that matter.

One thing I appreciate (now that I'm reflecting on the book) is that none of the thematic interests ever become cliche.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Stuelpnagel on June 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a mildly interesting book about Hollywood people, some of them portrayed as real and decent human beings, many of them sketched as types fitting in to the outline of a story, a self-referential structure that limits the emotional appeal to the reader. Act I is kind of fun and interesting but the promise of the premise does not get fully delivered.

True to Hollywood form, the female characters are neglected throughout, occupying distant supporting roles that never deviate from the expected.

Not much happens that is fun, exciting or entertaining, the mood is more maudlin, contemplative and noncommittal. Starts slowly, imperceptibly picks up pace, then flattens out and goes downhill to an unremarkable ending that feels tacked on.

The story compromises on a number of elements, there is plenty of detail as foundation, and the characters' work and family subplots dutifully trundle along, but it seems like the author created an outline and then dropped in one of everything.

A murder, an abortion, an accidental shooting, a few scuffles and suicide attempts and hospital visits, plenty of divorces... a predictable indictment of the culture or lack thereof, an episodic trajectory that ends up lacking any vestige of passion. It seems like an attempt to be sensational, but the result is actually contained and flatly paced.

This 460-page book needs to be edited, there are dozens of repetitive clichés scattered throughout the first half that could be cut to streamline the story, the entire manuscript repeats the same notes over and over to the point where the reader is waiting for something different to happen.

The pace is consistently languid, perhaps that is just a way to project the aloofness of Hollywood but it makes an otherwise palatable read a bit boring and predictable.
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alba Francesca on February 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As an industry insider AMERICAN DREAM MACHINE portrays a realistic and gut wrenching picture of life as a Hollywood agent in the fast lane. In its narrative it is highly entertaining, tender and touching, as well as hard hitting. I loved it.
James Karen
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Defunct Press on January 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The real achievement of ADM is the choice of point of view, and the amount of leeway Specktor allows his protagonist when conjuring up scenes at which he couldn't have been present. Nate's pain at not knowing what really happened with his father figures is palpable throughout, which is why we believe implicitly what he comes up with. His loneliness prompts him toward a truth he can never really know, but is all the more interesting for that. He's a seer in the tradition of Darl in As I Lay Dying, and for much the same reason. He's unloved, and is forced to invent his own purpose. That's fiction, baby. I'll be looking for the follow-up from this author.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Selby on June 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Could it be, I wonder, if the five-star reviews have come from friends of the author. I ask simply because this is just such a badly written novel. I did read the first 100 pages hoping that it would get better. The language is so choppy. And the narrator is completely unbelievable, narrating his story as if he actually knew his father in the past but in present tense. First person narration is tricky. And I am skeptical of it anyway. But this narrator is one of the most unreliable, unbelievable I have endured. And let me tell you reading those 100 pages was an endurance test. I actually had saved it out as a book to take on a plane trip--up and back--based on these five-star reviews. Fortunately I had my Nano with me once I waded through those awful 100 pages.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
American Dream Machine
This item: American Dream Machine
Price: $25.95 $12.54
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?