From Publishers Weekly
If the deluge of tabloid stories about River Phoenix's death from a drug overdose only whetted your appetite for dirty details about the actor's life, you'll find plenty of juice in Lost in Hollywood. Yet Glatt, the author of Rage and Roll: Bill Graham and the Selling of Rock, also tries to give this book a serious facade; it's replete with (amateur) psychoanalysis, references to Rimbaud, and a bibliography. He traces Phoenix's problems to his childhood (natch), which he spent in a Christian cult. Besides sending children out to beg, the group encouraged spouse swapping and preschool sex, Glatt reports. Disenchanted, the family finally left in 1978. Soon, however, River's mother came up with an unusual new plan to save the world: She would push her children into show business and use their visibility to preach the family's message. His mission determined, Phoenix quickly advanced from parts in commercials to film roles. But noble ulterior motives and his wholesome vegan image notwithstanding, Phoenix wasn't able to just say no. Although Glatt tries to pin the blame on rapacious hangers-on and the pressures of Hollywood, the case he makes is tenuous. If you, like, have a huge crush on River Phoenix, this is indeed titillating stuff, but ultimately the book doesn't rise far enough above its schlock-bio brethren.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Whenever a young media star dies, familiar observations are made and the usual demons--drugs, fame, sexual confusion, and parental abuse, misuse, or disuse--are exposed. In the case of River Phoenix, all such are rooted in reality. Raised in a religious cult, Phoenix had a childhood far from normal. According to Glatt, he was introduced to sex at age four and withheld from formal schooling, both apparently in accordance with cult beliefs. After a spell in South America, his parents hatched a plot to promulgate their religious views by having River become a Hollywood star. Soon the boy was the family breadwinner. Raised to believe he was on a holy mission to save the world, he grew up to be a serious, committed vegan who preached against drug and alcohol abuse. That he was also a dedicated partyer was remarked, but hey, that's the Hollywood lifestyle. Based on interviews covering every turn in Phoenix's curlicue lifepath, Glatt's book affords more revelation than is usually forthcoming after what unfortunately must be called a typical celebrity death-by-misadventure. Mike Tribby