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My Hollywood (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – August 9, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

Kathryn Stockett Reviews My Hollywood

Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to New York City, where she worked in magazine publishing and marketing for nine years. The Help is her first novel. Read her review of My Hollywood:

My Hollywood: Step into the glittering lives of Hollywood America, as scrubbed, wiped, and polished by immigrant women. It's so refreshing that a book can be this poignant, satirical, and heartbreaking at once. You might find yourself laughing at your own life as you read what the help says and thinks behind the backs of American housewives. You'll wonder at the intricate system of the modern household--where one mother pays another to give her children love. It illuminates the differences between American and immigrant mothers--until you realize how alike we are! The vivid accents and the vibrant voices of the children continue to ring in my ear. I loaned it to my mom and she took it to Mississippi with her and won't send it back. I'll be buying a copy of my own.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

With the publication of novels like Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus's The Nanny Diaries (2002) and Kathryn Stockett's The Help (**** Selection Jan/Feb 2010), there is no shortage of books about women and their domestic employees. Even so, Simpson's pragmatic and delightfully observant nanny Lola shines in this story of contemporary child rearing. Critics did find Claire, with her privileged lifestyle and chronic self-doubt, a slightly less compelling character. And, in stark contrast to all other critics, the Philadelphia Inquirer reviewer found the novel disorganized, repetitive, and filled with exasperating characters. While a few readers may not find My Hollywood to their liking, most should find it an entertaining and heartfelt addition to Simpson's body of work. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307475026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307475022
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,163,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mona Simpson was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, then moved to Los Angeles as a young teenager. Her father was a recent immigrant from Syria and her mother was the daughter of a mink farmer and the first person in her family to attend college. Simpson went to Berkeley, where she studied poetry. She worked as a journalist before moving to New York to attend Columbia's MFA program. During graduate school, she published her first short stories in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review and Mademoiselle. She stayed in New York and worked as an editor at The Paris Review for five years while finishing her first novel. Anywhere But Here. After that, she wrote The Lost Father, A Regular Guy and Off Keck Road.

Her work has been awarded several prizes: a Whiting Prize, a Guggenheim, a grant from the NEA, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Lila Wallace Readers Digest Prize, a Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, a Pen Faulkner finalist, and most recently a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

She worked ten years on My Hollywood. "It's the book that took me too long because it meant too much to me," she says.

Mona lives in Santa Monica with her two children and Bartelby the dog.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Mona Simpson is one of the only contemporary novelists to nail the working mother species and to give a voice to the voiceless Filipina, the indispensable yet invisible Nanny. My Hollywood should be required reading for mothers, fathers, and anybody interested in the triangular relationships between children, their caretakers, and their harrowed and harassed parents. My Hollywood manages, ever so lightly, no heavy-handedness there, to give voice to the working mother's struggle--always wanting two things at once--and to the voiceless caregivers (in this case the beautifully-drawn Lola). Simpson's has mastered double narration. On one hand, we read about Claire the musician, the new mother, the woman seeking a room of her own with a crib in the corner. On the other, Lola, the Filipina nanny, sending her pennies back home, building an autonomous life for the children she has left behind and never sees. How many women like Claire do we know, still shaking off the residue of romance, self-destructive perfectionists, who make a profession out of being so hard on themselves? This novel is a must read for practitioners and theorists of the American work ethic, and how it coalesces with the myth of the perfect mother. Work is everywhere in Simpson's characters' lives--of course in husband-Paul's infernal Hollywood schedule, but also in Claire's consciousness that each minute that passes with "nothing" to show for is pure loss: (I'd blown half my time... I was a dandelion blown). What a brilliant portrait of modern time (Time had once been public, in a clock tower on a town square; everyone saw the same hour and minutes. When watches were invented...people could carry around their own time).Read more ›
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A reader on August 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful and expansive novel about love (maternal and marital) and work (paid and unpaid). Claire, a composer, is a new mother trying to figure out how to manage the all consuming work of tending a baby and still do what sustains her--playing the cello and writing music. (Her husband Paul, an anxious TV writer-in-training, goes to work in the morning and stays there until deep in the night.) So Claire hires Lola, a Filipina nanny who is raising the money to send her youngest daughter through medical school. The two women take turns telling their stories in sharply contrasting, but equally compelling voices. Throughout, Simpson addresses vital human concerns: Who actually raises the children? Can a mostly-absent parent still be a good parent? How do children thrive and marriages endure in these various arrangements? Simpson's prose has notes of Henry Green and Virginia Woolf and even, at times, the satiric edge of Evelyn Waugh. This book is intelligent, beautifully and quite cleverly written, often funny. A literary novel for the ages.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By EJ on August 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about the modern Mom in all her over-scheduled yet scattered glory. There were definite insights in this book, and areas where the writing was outstanding. But, unfortunately, the story ultimately fell a bit flat.

Told alternately from the perspective of Claire, a composer and the mother of a young son; and Lola, the Filipina nanny whom she hires to watch her child when she is working, the story covers a lot of the challenges that the working mother faces, including the guilt involved in choosing to continue with a career when having a young child. I am not sure if the author was trying to portray the hectic and often scattered nature of the working mother when using Claire as the narrator, but I found her sections a bit serpentine and unfocused. From Lola's narrative, we also get insights into a close community of nannies who bond together and share their own challenges, which in many cases includes being working mothers themselves.

Nobody's perfect in this book. Mistakes are made on both sides of the spectrum. I think the author actually nailed a lot of the challenges to parenting these days, but overall, the story gets flat and repetitive as the book goes on. Perhaps this is because the everyday trials and tribulations of the average mom tend to be a bit boring after awhile in real life as well as on the page. Everyone's just doing what they think is best for their family, but there is really not much excitement there. The book was just okay.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Lawless on June 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a mom living in Hollywood - so I bought this book. I know the author is much lauded and well known but I found this book to be, well, lifeless and a bit of a bore. Sure, it's well written and has some beautifully crafted sentences but the main character's whining, her contempt for her husband and her insecurities about practically every aspect of her life were uninvolving, and even off-putting. I found it hard to care about her and her "problems". The nanny's story was slightly more interesting but is written in this confusing sort of patois, I suppose to reflect her lack of knowledge of the English language. It bordered on the condescending. All in all - not a great book and I regretted paying full price!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jays fan on December 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
So many critics, in the wake of Franzen's latest blockbuster Freedom, have bemoaned the fact that only male novelists write social realism in the form of grand, sweeping fiction. They must have missed this beautiful, heart-breaking, true novel with characters so real they seem to step off the page. The tense, intimate, mutually wary co-dependency of nanny and mother is perfectly drawn, and throughout, there is a broader social commentary about America, about the distance between appearances and reality, about the immigrant experience, about modern marriage (much more believably than Franzen, by the way), about every micro-trend and fad in childcare and education, about money and what it means to us, and above all, work and how we derive our sense of meaning from it. What's really amazing is that Simpson manages to pack all this in while focusing almost entirely on matters domestic, yet it never feels contrived. This is a book people will and should be reading long after Freedom (don't get me wrong: it's a diverting entertainment and I enjoyed it, but it's as deep as a well-made HBO program) sinks into obscurity. Everything about My Hollywood -- plot construction, panoramic scope, the characters' voices, the accumulation of detail and nuance -- is extraordinary, particularly because its subject -- children, and how they shape women's lives -- is so very ordinary. I don't think Simpson got her due for this novel, which is far superior both in reach and execution than anything she has written before, and definitely far superior to any other literary fiction published this year. One thing that makes this novel so wonderful is its blend of humour and authorial tenderness for her characters -- Simpson creates empathy for these truly multi-dimensional, flawed women, and you feel bereft, as though you've lost friends, when the novel ends. If it were possible to give more than five stars, I would.
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