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The Return of the Player Paperback – August 8, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (August 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802118011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802118011
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,520,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. More than a decade has passed since Griffin Mill's murderous ascent to Hollywood power in The Player. Now, with his career stalled and only $6 million in the bank, he is, by Hollywood standards, broke. The 12-year-old daughter he sired with his then mistress (now discontented wife), Lisa, is a brat who reverts to noxious baby talk when she doesn't get her way. His two older children hold him in cold contempt. He suffers from erectile dysfunction (his allergy to Viagra a wicked double whammy) and lusts after his ex-wife, June. In Griffin's mind, all of Western civilization is in decline, and his fantasies feature a Pacific atoll stocked with food and weapons. Step one in his plan to gain control hinges on leveraging the politics of elite Los Angeles private schools. (He commits manslaughter in the process.) Griffin's ploy snags the attention of a voracious entertainment magnate who plucks Mill from his stagnation and taunts him into concocting a multibillion-dollar idea. Mill's antiheroic effort to wring love and meaning from a loveless and meaningless life is heartfelt and cynical, resulting in a powerful dark comedy that transcends the shopworn genre of Hollywood satire. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Just in case readers have been holding their collective breath wondering what befalls Griffin Mill, Tolkin obliges with this follow-up to The Player (1992). It's crisis time as Griffin is onto his second (failing) marriage and down to his last $6 million in the bank. He is worried about the end of the world and would like his own private island to escape to, literally. For that he is going to need money, lots of it, and fast. Seemingly unable to randomly commit murder, Mill once again disposes^B of an irrelevant character who stands in the way of his success, though this time without even the vague justification of self-defense. Just about everyone in this novel is motivated by base egoistic escapism, and it quickly becomes clear that they're just the type to make out like bandits. Tolkin's account of modern Hollywood and progressive familial relationships is as dry and passionless as the society it depicts, but he does manage his fair share of perfectly worded insights among--and indeed despite--this otherwise bothersome skin-deep tale. Ian Chipman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

This was the worst book I have ever read.
Christoph A. Driver
Aside from the somewhat interesting insights into the main characters, there is nothing remotely justifies this return.
Edward C. Stieg
Tolkin's first book about Griffin Mill was made into a very fine film by Robert Altman.
oddy mrrfffy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matthew S. Cavnar on October 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
About halfway through this book I thought Tolkin had gone and nailed one to the wall and left it there for all peoples to look on in wonder, like a Shroud of LaCienega. This is a modern classic. The true word. But I for once restrained myself and finished it and about twenty pages later, page 110 to be exact, it starts to skip and then quickly descends into strange territory. You keep reading, hoping for another classic Tolkin rant but more disturbed by his veering into a personal philosophy that reads like a mix of Robert McKee and Star Jones Reynolds. That everyone operates in the vocabulary of the journey of the hero is a good and amusing concient. When he plays it off as newspeak it has an ache and a rightness you can feel, but when people start spouting this stuff as the truth writ large you get the feeling tolkin means it all. And the instant that happens, the characters go from real to motorized authorial mouthpieces. Also, Tolkin interjects a pages long business plan that put me into a stupor I had not experienced since Paul Auster laid out the rules for the card game he had developed as a young author...

That said, nobody can write speeches like this man and the book is worth buyiing just for the raw energy of the first half, when the characters zip around Hollywood and the internet with the kind of period detail and accuracy you rarely get anywhere. This is a very well observed book... but it would have been nice if the journey of the hero did not so closely resemble the freak out of the nutball.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Dwyer on October 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
THE RETURN OF THE PLAYER probably should have never happened: it's a sequel to a good book which was made into a terrific movie which achieved a certain mobius-strip-eating-its-own-tail iconography. If I'd known about this before it was published, I'm sure I would have wished the writer (or publisher?) would just leave well enough alone.

But Tolkin is shrewd (his two movies are fine stuff, and AMONG THE DEAD is deadly cynical but very, very sharp); he certainly had a viable continuing arc for his lead, Griffin Mill, and for about three fourths of this book, things are rolling along surprisingly well. There are a couple of narrative and character bumps -- mainly with "June," and that problem may be because I'm thinking of Greta Scacchi's indelible "June" in the Altman film rather than the one Tolkin put on page and has full rights to, the movie be damned.

But things are rolling along fine and the book is very well-plotted until, almost literally, Tolkin's character gets his soapbox. Suddenly, the authoral voice becomes overwhelming, and his sharp, observational eye -- more hit than miss -- becomes more editorial in nature, and the book never quite recovers. The final pages are a good idea which would have been, perhaps, supremely satisfying if Tolkin hadn't left the station without the reader for perhaps thirty or more pages of eye-glazing wtf.

The book suffers a bit from a sort of plot device which deeply weakens the main female characters, and, in fact, comes off as a primal male fantasy teetering on the misogynistic. No doubt the very wealthy can afford to realize many fantasies, but that's not how this one is set up, and so the development feels grafted rather than organic. Male fantasy? Liberal finger-in-the-face-of-morality?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on November 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Fans of Michael Tolkin's 1988 novel THE PLAYER and the 1992 Robert Altman film based on that story will greet the return of its antihero Griffin Mill with enthusiasm, while new readers will find themselves engaged by this entertaining black comedy set in the surreal world of present-day Hollywood.

Having literally gotten away with murder in THE PLAYER, one might think that 52-year-old Griffin Mill would be grateful to be a free man, recommending scripts for new movies in his $1.5 million-a-year studio executive job and living with his former mistress, Lisa, now his wife and mother of his third child. Instead, he's tormented by the implosion of his net worth to a mere $6 million in the dotcom bust, and his vanished libido, made even more troubling by his allergy to Viagra. He's also haunted by a free-floating malaise that oscillates between the poles of personal anxiety and worry about mankind's slide toward inevitable catastrophe. "This is it?" he muses, reflecting on the emptiness of his life. "Right turns on red light, homework, some kind of accommodation with death, some kind of theology to overcome envy, some kind of gesture in the direction of making the world better, a little charity, and, other than that, trying not to let your bad feelings spoil someone else's day or --- not anything so remote as a day --- a minute, a moment."

In desperation, Griffin hatches a scheme to ingratiate himself with Phil Ginsberg, a mysterious self-made media entrepreneur and "the most purely frightening person Griffin knew in Hollywood." Ginsberg suffers from his own financial angst: he wants to turn a fortune of a mere $750 million into a meaningful $4 billion so that, if he chooses, he can "buy ten fighter jets and make war on Guatemala.
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