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You Don't Die of Love: Stories Paperback – May 11, 2011
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Ten loosely interconnected shorts by screenwriter Thonson reveal the insular, sordid and somewhat touching world of Hollywood, its insiders, and those who prey on them. Dark, pointed details and heavy atmosphere haunt these engaging tales.
These 10 interconnected stories trace a web of Hollywood relationships, revealing how careless decisions can have repercussions for decades--on and off the big screen. Thonson offers acrobatic dialogue in scenes that feel both realistic and satirical. Many of his interactions have the terse, economical style of the late Raymond Carver's work. Even the subtlest lines carry power and significance. A sharp, melancholic, and knowing addition to the long shelf of Angeleno literature.
About the Author
Thomas Thonson is a screenwriter, filmmaker and film-worker, who toils away beneath the Griffith Observatory (also known as Jor-El’s laboratory from the Superman TV show) in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.
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Top Customer Reviews
I know these people and places , I've walked through this life beside
them-sharing their joy, pain and committed zeal in the
face of an industry and world that seems to fade as you reach each plateau.
"You Don't Die of Love" affirms a life lived by many in this Los Angeles,
a city that at times seems to be the physical and emotional realization of
expectations crowned by desire.
Fortunately, these stories appear to have been slow-cooked over time to remove any acrimony (not to mention predictable Tinseltown clichés) while staying authentic. This is helped by a detached yet warm tone, giving the writing an agreeable melancholy. Periodic passages of movie speak succeed and are not gimmicky because they fit, artistically. I particularly liked this one from the opening to the third story, Caper:
By all accounts Gary Grand had been naked when he ran across the Hollywood freeway in the dwindling dusk of that Friday rush hour. Various witnesses had given their accounts. The newsmen from all the local channels had gotten them all on tape beneath a circling helicopter, the chug-chug of the blades stirring the air, their hair lifting delicately from the heads, staring blankly into the camera's blinding light, as they breathlessly recounted their stories: "I looked up and there he was . . ."
A sequence emerged: a shifting shape, stutter-stepping, blurry, pixilated by the stabbing headlights, a comic sequence, silent movie speed, Keystone Cop funny . . . pale figure, arms flailing, a slab of white paper in his hands . . . defying all odds as he slashed across the lanes in a zigzag run.
That the stories vary widely in length and narrative style does not affect the unity of the collection. The interrelation of dissolute characters, along with the filmic context, reminds me of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.
The book opens with Western, which takes place after the death of Harry Dare an old time actor of Westerns whose private life was more dramatic than his cinematic one. While not an active character, his ghost lingers and affects family, friends, lovers, acquaintances, and colleagues. The themes of love and death, as implied by the title, echo throughout.
I saw Harry's corporeal death as symbolizing the death of Hollywood, or rather an anachronistic version of the Hollywood in which the big studios ruled. Harry Dare; Hollywood: there is a phonetic similarity. There is also a parallel between Harry's posthumous influence and that of the old ways of Hollywood upon the characters. To me, Hollywood is not as much the subject of You Don't Die of Love, as it is the blood of its content.
The title and final story is the most in-depth and arguably strongest piece, even though it seems to lack a central character. It does have one in Dare's daughter Nora, who struggles to reconcile her outwardly glamorous person with her inner and duller (yet more fascinating) anal-retentive self. Unfortunately, the impact of her story is diluted by getting into the heads of lesser characters, particularly Victor. Nonetheless, it's a satisfying way to tie it all together.
My only regret is that the book needed one more rigorous round of copyediting and proofreading. The former to prune some excessive narration, such as authorial intrusions and superfluous background biographical information; the latter to fix basic technical errors. These stories deserve as much, particularly the last one.
That doesn't prevent me from wholeheartedly recommending You Don't Die of Love.
I can't relate to the whole Hollywood scene so that could account for my not liking the book. Someone immersed in living the Hollywood life may find this a wonderful book. The writing was alright, good flow of dialogue, easy to follow. The characters are shallow, not likeable. I think I just found it too much work trying to make sense of it all.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great sneak peek into LA and Hollywood realities and unrealities through this...Read more