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A Way of Life, Like Any Other (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – August 31, 2001
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"A hysterically funny coming—of—age story set in Hollywood in the ‘40s…a kind of Catcher in the Rye for the Cheap Trick generation." — GQ
"How is it that this minor comic masterpiece could ever have gone out of print? Darcy O’Brien’s 1977 novel…takes us into an alien culture, Hollywood in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and evokes that kitschy world with spectacularly deadpan humor." — Michael Dirda, The Atlantic Monthly
"A hilarious addition to the fabulous Hollywood novel, this time laconic, understated, deadpan, ruthlessly cutting from scene to scene and character to character, and both witty and moving. I enjoyed it enormously, and recommend it unreservedly as a funny, serious, literate, and intelligent book." — The Guardian
"It is the real thing….It’s bound to go like a greyhound, fast and fine." — Seamus Heaney
"This novel’s teen—age hero, a kind of West Coast Holden Caulfield, tells of his surreal coming of age in Hollywood as the son of a former cowboy star and a faded actress. When their marriage breaks up, he bounces around town trying to find his bearings, with results both farcical and serious." — Press-Telegram
"O’Brien’s storytelling voice is at once eminently sensible and attuned to absurdity; he sees what’s amusing in his world without rendering it as caricature….A Way of Life, Like Any Other takes the same sane, amused attitude to the hyperbolic reality that is Hollywood. Like an infinitely slyer Margaret Mead, O’Brien shows us the culture he grew up in, and living up to his title, helps us understand how this way of life is like any other — sort of, anyway." — John Powers, LA Weekly, Best L.A. Novel
"Spawned by a pair of movie stars from Hollywood’s golden age, the unnamed boy narrator of this indirect and vinegary little book wonders: Was there ever so pampered an ass as mine?" — Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Seamus Heaney’s first poetry collection, Death of a Naturalist, appeared forty years ago. Since then he has published poetry, criticism, and translations that have established him as one of the leading poets of his generation. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Top Customer Reviews
O'Brien's Irish heritage seems beside the point (must every Irish American writer be placed against Joyce and Flann O'Brien?), but this is, indeed, a work that skirts the line between fact and fiction. Heaney's literary acumen aside, this is also a very American book--more specifically a highbrow model of that lowest of middlebrow fiction, the Hollywood novel. More germanely to the author, it is a raw, impassioned, and surprisingly tender ode to his parents--a pair of has-been, real-life film stars down on their luck and at odds with each other. Finding humor (both lighthearted and morbid) amid relative misery, "A Way of Life" is far more a precursor to the confessional works by the likes of David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, and Jeannette Walls than a successor to early-twentieth-century Irish fiction.
Hollywood has never been shy about laughing at itself; readers will recognize many of the central-casting players depicted here, along with the shallow pretensions of the jet set.Read more ›
A Way of Life, Like Any Other is a picaresque tale of Hollywood in the fifties, hilarious and scathing. A novel, almost a memoir. The protagonist (like Darcy O'Brien himself) is the child of two Hollywood stars in decline.
At first glance you might mistake the book for one of those happy/sad accounts of famous parents that turn up now and then in The New Yorker magazine. But this novel is much funnier and sadder and not nearly so harmless. Darcy O'Brien is willing to be angrier than almost anyone will admit to being nowadays. His account of his mother's defeat by a Christmas Pudding is very funny and very sad, but most of all it is furious.
Demolishing several lives in 155 pages, this is a novel in a delicious hurry, racking up conquests and disasters at a careening speed that seems both fun and generous, like a brilliant friend who buys your drinks all night and says, "Brace yourself. I'm going to tell you everything."
How this book has avoided becoming a famous movie is a total mystery. The closest thing to a moral comes on page 105: "No child aspires to repeat the tragedy of his parents but must avert the compulsion to do so."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a book of survival, of selfish parents who live for strictly themselves. To me the worst of sins. This is the story of overcoming ones parents sins. Sins we all deal with.Published 21 days ago by Amazon Customer
Highly entertaining short (150p) novel, narrated by the son of a Hollywood showbiz couple. From the luxurious early years on the family ranch, things soon go downhill; mother takes... Read morePublished 2 months ago by sally tarbox
Interesting semi-autobiographical tale about being raised in Hollywood by two famous 30's and 40's stars.Published 8 months ago by Lou Hoffman
A NICE LITTLE SLEEPER OF A NONEL. QUIETLY WITTY, IT SEEMS TO HAVE FALLEN THROUGH THE CRACKS. A GOOD EXAMPLE OFTHE IIRONIC NONEL . THE HERO SAYS ONE THING WHEN HE MEANS ANOTHER. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Bruce Jay Friedman
It took two months of bedtime reading to get through this book. It's just a sad short story that ends on a sad note of hate. My first time reading this authors work. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
I read a little more than one third and put it down. It wasn't anything I was interested in. Maybe if I had continued a little further into the book, something would have held me... Read morePublished on December 2, 2013 by C Fletcher
I enjoyed the flippant tone but the "story" wandered all over the place and I never got a true fix on the main character. Read morePublished on November 28, 2013 by TNL
It is a quick read and as the author goes on the writing goes from suitable to excellent.
It lacks details for those not of this bygone era. Read more
An inside look at life in Hollywood as a child of stars. Well written and compelling. Appears to be honest and not just an rant. Read morePublished on October 30, 2013 by Ernest Reader