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The Book of Dreams Hardcover – May 9, 1994

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his eighth novel, Nova ( The Good Son ; Trombone ) returns to his hometown of Hollywood for this suspenseful but problematic story of murder and blackmail. Fans will recognize the author's trademark convergent plot construction as he steers his three major characters toward a final, climactic meeting. Movie mogul Warren Hodges is all too willing to leave behind his studio trappings for the love of blonde Marta Brooks, a personals magazine receptionist he meets at one of his frequent parties. But Hodges doesn't know that the woman has accidentally killed a local porn king while picking up some film for her sleazy boss. The killing is witnessed by small-time hood Victor Shaw, whose visions of blackmail are hindered by the hit man who has been trailing him since Shaw's last job. Nova deftly interweaves a glitzy Hollywood background with some good noir atmosphere, and he scores telling points in his complicated yarn by revealing the essential hollowness of both crooks and bigwigs. The relationship between the mogul and the working girl never really clicks, however, leaving little justification for the love-struck Hodges to pursue the risky romance. Moreover, the finale falls curiously flat, although it does feature a literally smashing appearance by an ex-circus elephant that performs at children's parties.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Using a handful of characters from a high-powered studio chief to a neat-freak hitman whose lives all intersect, Nova (Trombone, LJ 4/15/92) spins a gorgeous tale that fully rejuvenates in often surprising fashion the tired Hollywood-novel genre. Despite their familiarity, the characters and their backgrounds are marvelously detailed and mostly cliche-free (no small feat in this genre). As usual, Nova constantly flirts with overwriting, so as a noirish thriller this work is a little slow and flat. In addition, he sometimes reaches pretty far to vary his descriptions of L.A.'s foul air, which he uses as moral indicators for his characters, none of whose cars seems to be running very well either. Despite the title, once innocence wears off, there are no dreams in Hollywood because they are all shoved up there on the screen. Nova's eighth novel is so good that it reminds one of the great Day of the Locust, with an oddly similar, crushed-innocence ending, although here Nova uses a large elephant rampaging through Malibu. Don't ask. Read.
David Bartholomew, NYPL
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; First Edition edition (May 9, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395636507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395636503
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,584,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Nova's wit dark wit is well suited to this tale of Hollywood's underbelly.

Warren Hodges, head of International Pictures, is one of the film industry's mythic figures - too wealthy and powerful to be human. Into his line of sight walks Marta Brooks, who fulfills her promise of mystery with a nosebleed in his sportscar which she cleanses away with an ocean swim.

The scene should be absurd, particularly coming, as it does, after the overweening description of Hodges' party, where, wending his star-struck way towards Marta, Hodges shares a stock tip with a hard-edged actress and averts a drunken suicide with a promise. But his meeting with Marta imparts a hint of redemption, a possibility of tragedy, a touch of the sinister. And it draws the reader on.

Nova leaves Hodges behind as he delves into Marta's world. Like the movie magnate, she is a Hollywood native. But she takes ads for the Romance Advertiser and, needing the job, she has agreed to pick up a package for her shady boss. Instead, she finds an empty house, bloodstained walls and clouds of flies.

Nova delves deeper, introducing Marta's sad-sack mother, the fantasy Dad she created for Marta, Marta's deep sadness and escape. Escape into the present where, against her better judgment, she pursues the package to a new destination.

Where she is followed by another Hollywood native, a recent release from Soledad State Prison, who's hit blackmail paydirt in his cleaning job at a psychiatrist's office. But he needs someone to pick up the money for him, a patsy, and Marta falls into his lap like a ripe plum.

Nova weaves his way through the lives of these people, their convoluted route to the moments they share, what they took from a common background to become the creatures they are. Their intersection is outlandish but somehow inevitable. Comic, dark and suspenseful, his story owes its strength to the gritty feel of the place as much as the nuances of character.
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