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American Rhapsody Hardcover – Large Print, December, 2000


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American Rhapsody is a gleeful act of outrage, simultaneously an assault on the Clintons and a bridge-burning, tell-all Hollywood memoir in the wicked spirit of You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. Joe Eszterhas's narrative is a torrent of consciousness with no consistent sense of direction, but it all erupts from a plausible organizing principle best articulated in the chapter "Bubba in Pig Heaven": Hollywood is where Clinton really belongs. The author claims Bill watches Blazing Saddles six times a year, and says that Gennifer Flowers got him blazing by enacting a Sharon Stone-like crotch-shot scene years before Basic Instinct. When a sarcastic Clinton allegedly told a Hollywood producer that his enemies would soon be accusing him of coupling with a cow, the producer sent him Eszterhas's 1989 screenplay Sacred Cow, in which a president does just that. Eszterhas claims Spielberg dropped the film because of his friendship with Clinton. But he still thinks Clinton would be great in the role.

The Lewinsky saga really should be ho-hum by now, but American Rhapsody's Evel Knievel-like leaps of free association and mad brio breathe life into it. You've never been properly introduced to Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg until you've read "The Ratwoman and the Bag Lady of Sleaze," its uproarious take on the pair. American Rhapsody gives dozens of stars time in the sweaty spotlight: Matt "the Scavenger" Drudge, heroic Larry Flynt (whose threat to report Republican scandals Eszterhas credits with quashing impeachment)--almost every big political scandal victim in memory. And there are lots of Hollywood types behaving badly: Bob Dylan, Warren Beatty, Ronald Reagan, Farrah Fawcett, Sharon Stone, Robert Evans, Sly Stallone (who wanted to portray Jesus onscreen), and even Joe Eszterhas. The fantasy chapters, printed in boldface, are sometimes funny (e.g., "Kenneth W. Starr Confesses"), but mostly they're both over the top and below the belt (e.g., "Willard Comes Clean," the confessions of the president's penis). What holds your interest is the main narrative, a heady mix of showbiz gossip, personal essay, and Lester Bangs-style prose mania. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A loud belch commands attention. So will this hyped, bombastic take on the Clinton presidency from Eszterhas, screenwriter of Showgirls, Flashdance, Basic Instinct and other scarlet highlights in film history. Eszterhas knows how to write. His prose sizzles and spits across these hot pages to the hip rhythms of the gonzo journalism pioneered by Rolling Stone, where Eszterhas made his name some 30 years back. Much of the book is outrageously funny, particularly to readers with a healthy inner snickering teen. It's also flagrantly self-righteous, a finger-wagging indictment of how the hopes of the 1960s-embodied, to Eszterhas, in Clinton, the "first rock and roll American president," "one of us"-went astray as the mind and heart of the chief executive were waylaid by the demanding presidential penis, which, according to Eszterhas (by way of Gennifer Flowers), the commander in chief refers to as "Willard." That bit of info, plus many others equally titillating but nearly as trivial, testifies to the prodigious research that apparently went into this volume ("apparently" because it lacks bibliography and footnotes; it also features explicitly fictional chapters from the viewpoints of assorted principals, including one voiced by Willard). As Eszterhas casts the past 50 American years as a battle between forces dark (Nixon, Reagan, Packwood-i.e., Republicans) and light (the counterculture, James Carville, Larry Flynt), he makes minor news: who knew that Clinton and Monica engaged in oral-anal contact? that Nixon also had a young assistant named Monica? that the same man shot both Vernon Jordan and Larry Flynt? He also sharpens some significant points and sledgehammers them home-points about the confluence of Hollywood (on which this book is also memoir/commentary) and Washington; about how, like a Don Juan with syphilis, the '60s carried in their very excess the seed of self-destruction; about how individuals can shape history (e.g., the role of Larry Flynt in saving Clinton from conviction by the Senate in his impeachment trial, and so the nation from what Eszterhas sees as a potential coup d'etat). But gonzo guy that he is, along the way Eszterhas not only names but calls them, as he thrashes a host of celebrities, from Sharon Stone to Bob Dole and Linda Tripp. It's as if every drop of bile and brain fluid sloshing through Eszterhas has dripped into this book-a manic, mouthy, self-indulgent, impossible to ignore lament for America. 200,000 first printing; first serial to Talk. (Aug. 18)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Thorndike Americana
  • Hardcover: 845 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press (December 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786229950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786229956
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.7 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,924,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe Eszterhas has written fifteen films which have made more than a billion dollars at the box office. Among them are Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, Flashdance, Showgirls, Betrayed, Music Box and F.I.S.T. He is the author of the recent New York Times bestsellers AMERICAN RHAPSODY and HOLLYWOOD ANIMAL. In 1975, his second book, CHARLIE SIMPSON'S APOCALYPSE, was nominated for the National Book Award. He was a senior editor at Rolling Stone from 1971 to 1975. He lives with his wife, Naomi, and their four sons in Bainbridge Township, Ohio.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Xeneri on July 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm all for satire and a good wicked read -- especially when it comes to hollywood or politics. But this book never quite rose to all it's hype and expectations. Claiming to be a gleeful "tell-all" book about the Clintons and other such scandels, AMERICAN RHAPSODY wants to be a scathing satiric review of political limelight. Instead it's a good idea with no consistent sense of direction. There are moments of hilarity and occasional comic insight but mostly this is a predictable, over the top book featuring segments like "Willard Comes Clean" (translating to: the confessions of the president's penis.) A little disappointing.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Wow...this book gets on a roll from the first chapter and absolutely does not let up. It is a hilarious, scandelous romp through the Clinton years, from D.C. to Hollywood. If you have followed the turbulent career of Eszterhas the screenwriter and wondered what kind of a book he might conjure, this is it.
I was as bored as everyone else during the Lewinski scandle, but if you thought there was nothing else to say about it, you must read this. Eszterhas breaths new life into a subject that before seemed as dead as Dillinger. In his own style, part narrative, part Hollywood tell all, part essay, he shows us a new side to this, one rarely seen under all the intense media glare that surrounded the time.
If you want an entertaining read that is also an interesting look back, pick this up. You will not be disapointed.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Sheila Clinton-Reed on July 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I saw the author, interview with Charlie Rose, and ordered the book. I just finished it, today, and have already passed it on to a good friend. I found the book fascinating, titilating, and profane. I am a 66 year old woman, and not a member of the sixties generation. Much of the book contained information I wasn't aware of. Many times I was shocked. However, I could not put the book down! I am so glad that I read it, and will recomend it to my friends. For me, it was good to find the balance between so much sexual information about Bill Clinton, and new information about so many other politicians of both parties. I, for one, am tired of hearing so many people act horrified at what we have learned about this president. I remember FDR, and nothing was ever printed about his personal life, until long after his death. I really don't need to know about anyone else's sex life. But,if we must be informed about one of our politicians, then let's know how frequently so many others share those habits. Reading this book, has left me with the feeling that no one in political life, is exempt of that power going to their head, and areas below their waists! I will be working to help elect more women to high level, political positions. Perhaps when there is a more equal balance between men and women in the Congress, these school boy practices will diminish. Thanks Joe, for my enlightenment.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By David H. Holtzman on August 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Sure it's sleazy and overemphasizes the gory details (and that's putting it mildly!). But Eszterhas can write in a way that is not immediately apparent from having seen Showgirls et al. This books is SATIRE and like it or not captures a spirit of a generation that puts the whole Lewinsky fiasco in the proper perspective. This book reminds me of Wolfe's "Radical Chic", Thompson's "...Hell's Angels" or even Roth's "Our Gang".
I actually felt sorry for Clinton after having read this book. He's a creature of his own appetites and is unfortunately all too representative of his own cross-section of society. Eszterhas makes the observation that Clinton's true peer group is the rock-n-roll, far left set that ended up invading hollywood, music and almost every other segment of society---why not the white house, too?
You gotta love the "Rat Woman" caricature. It sums up many people's feelings so well. My personal favorite was his not-so-subtle characterization of Nixon as "The Night Creature". I liked his Nixon much better than Oliver Stone's.
I might be smoking something (without inhaling, of course), but I think that this book shows real talent and a deft hand at skewering that has been absent from the literary scene for a couple of decades.
I enjoyed it very much, even though I was prepared to sneer. It did however, need some serious editing and would have been a much, much better book if about 25% of it had been cut.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
THIS WAS A ROLLERCOASTER RIDE FROM HOLLYWOOD TO WASHINGTON D.C. WITH A SIDETRIP THROUH HELL.I THINK ESZTERHAUS IS THE MOST ORIGINAL HUMOROUS VOICE IN AMERICA TODAY.I ALSO BOUGHT THE UNABRIDGED AUDIO WHICH IS OVER TWENTY HOURS LONG..I HAVE LISTENED TO THE FIRST HALF AND NEVER LAUGHED SO HARD IN MY LIFE.I THINK IT IS EVEN BETTER THAN BOOK BECAUSE IT INCLUDES MATERIAL THE PUBLISHER DID NOT USE.THIS BOOK/TAPE IS THE MOST FUN I HAVE EVER HAD WITH MY CLOTHES ON.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By john montgomery on January 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Eszterhas may have had a point to make in writing this book unfortunateley one has to wade through page after page of his own self inflated, name dropping, ultra left wing, pretensious posturing to ( hopefully ) find it. The subject of the book - Clinton/Lewinsky ramifications ( I assume ) - seem to be more a handy facade for the projection of Joe's personal, so called liberalistic, axe grinding.
If you already know that the Handsome/Sweetie saga was symptomatic of the present Dark Age we've entered then don't waste your time on this book.
I mean Joe seems to be under the impression that Showgirls ( he was the screenwriter ) is a worthwhile film. Need I say more?
This book contributes no REAL enlightenment on it's subject matter. An F grade re-hash of the Starr Report.
Do yourself a favor skip this and buy yourself buy anything by PJ O'Rourke instead.
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