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Force Majeure: A Novel Paperback – February 8, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743268962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743268967
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,184,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Heavily in debt and depressed, forever-up-and-coming Hollywood screenwriter Bud Wiggins, who chauffeurs a limo to earn a steady income, drifts aimlessly from bed to bed and from one wacky script idea to the next. Bud, striving to feel "rooted and mature, in the Now," lives with his suffocating, kvetching mom, Dolly, master of the Jewish guilt-trip. Bud is haunted by memories of Jeanette, the "smart hillbilly Baptist from Tennessee" he almost married, and of Brian, a surgeon roommate who committed suicide. Screenwriter Wagner ( Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills ) peoples this wickedly sardonic, literate, frequently hilarious novel with familiar types--a nihilistic producer, an aging film star, an obnoxious mogul--and with startling characters like The Rav, a wild-eyed mystic would-be rabbi. Wagner gleefully rips out the livid, still-beating heart of Hollywood to expose its class system, its built-in vulgarity, its shrinks, AA meetings, starlets, harlots, climbers and burn-outs. Wagner is a hip sociologist of ferocious veracity and methodical precision.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Once Hollywood screenwriter Bud Wiggins was hot; now he's not. Now, scrambling to take meetings so he can pitch projects, he's driving a limo and living with his mother. But with a contact or two (Bud still knows people) and some luck, he gets a part in a B horror movie and writes its sequel, becomes companion to the hottest "script doctor" in town (who leaves him a script to make his own), and hooks up with a self-described hack who can't help making money. All of which keeps alive the dreams--of the big project, or the perfect wedding--which finally turn sour. The messages here are that there are no new ideas in the story business and that it's hard to get a second meeting or a third act. But Hollywood as setting for satire or black comedy gets tiresome, and despite some nice one-liners and bits here, few beyond film buffs or those in The Business will go the distance with Bud Wiggins. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/91.
- Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Baeckler on November 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Bruce Wagner is a screenwriter and director with a swirling disturbing perception of the subworld that is Hollywoodland. When writing the seminal though hardly remembered techrevolution packaged as a TV miniseries, Wild Palms, he locked himself away in the old 20s glamour haunt, the Chateau Marmont friend William Gibson has reported, and filled the room with books - not to read, but just to inspire or invoke in the darn thing. I think there were probably a lot of candles too.
Force Majeure is somewhat more contemporary than the near future world of Wild Palms, but it is spilling over with the same mundane paranoia that seeps through Hollywood. Bud Wiggins, a Willy Loman as screenwriter bumps and stumbles through a world and narrative that is part Day of the Locusts, part Terry Southern's Blue Movie. You feel like there's always a conspiracy around the corner, but its only showbiz. Force Majeure whips together trippyness, struggle, pop, and pornography in a way that makes me think of Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers, though the books are not similar otherwise.
Finally, this is a portrait of Hollywood. There's a beginning rule of screenwriting that says Hollywood is the only place where you can make a living on failure. And that's if you're really lucky. Force Majeure embodies that notion.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Oh, vital, frenetic wackiness! This book is full of crackling humor, killer lines, and loony situations, all riding on an undercurrent of dark bile. This is less a novel than a series of short stories, which I think it may have been at one time, before the author became well-known, and wrote a TV mini-series (the weird and unappealing “Wild Palms”). It follows the adventures of Bud Wiggins, a struggling, floundering, would-be Hollywood screenwriter. Bud is a piece of work, but he seems like a reasonable fellow in comparison with the people and situations he comes up against.

This is without question a satirical portrait of Hollywood and its denizens, from the eager up and comers (like Bud) to the established stars, who are usually some combination of corrupt, half-crazy, or worse, and pretentious. Meet studio head Joseph Harmon, an industry legend, who is given to picking up strange men and giving them oral sex. Then there is Caitlin Wurtz, super-successful screenwriter of “Banana Republic” starring the monkey Calabash, a total kook who takes a liking to the protagonist. Or tough-guy producer Lou Gottlieb who befriends the writer Perry Bravo (recently released from prison, and apparently based on Jack Henry Abbott), a move that costs him his life. The reader also encounters European art house director Witold Kracz, a mental patient who directs the institution’s therapeutic play (written by Bud).

The book is episodic in structure, and Bud lurches from one weird situation to the next. He lives with his mom, who is given to some very odd behavior, and mostly makes his living driving a limousine, a job which allows him to eavesdrop on agents and producers whom he is hoping will produce work.
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sappho on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend and found it profoundly dissapointing. The most annoying thing about it is the way that the plot is packed with red herrings: mysterious, unnamed characters who seem to be crucial but never develop into anybody interesting or meaningful and instead just vanish; sub-plots that end suddenly and uninterestingly, as though the writer forgot where he was going and decided to change direction mid-stream; and tons of fascinating "minor" characters who are either conveniently knocked off or commit suicide before they risk stealing the scene from the stunningly boring, self-indulgent, predictable narrator. Wagner tries to get away with this by referencing "Don Quixote," a novel famous for its rambling, meandering, tangential, apparently endless narrative. This unbelievably egocentric comparison might work for some but I stopped reading "Don Quixote" long before that book ended and I was tempted to do the same with this one.

I thought this would be a "fun romp" through Hollywood, with lots of name-dropping, gossipy, juicy stuff, but the truth is it is way too ambitious--trying to be a combination of Philip Roth and Cervantes. Okay, yes, it is his first, but unfortunately it will, for me anyway, be the last Wagner I ever pick up.
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