Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Hollywood. District of Los Angeles, California, and the symbolic center of the American film industry. The novel opens with Todd Hackett, a graduate of Yale University and cinematic set designer, traversing the National Films studio lot on his way home. He walks among a wild collection of historical and national artifacts—Russian hussars, Scottish warriors, French grenadiers, and a Mississippi steamboat. For the time being Hackett takes the place for granted; its contradictions are simply the norm. However, later in the novel, when he chases Faye Greener across the lot, he is struck by its improbable diversity. A recreation of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo commences beside a Western saloon, which in turn gives way to a Parisian street, a Roman courtyard, and a Greek temple. These sound stages eventually dissolve into a ten-acre field of cockleburs where discarded sets have been left to rot, and their disorder and sheer anomalousness suggest a sea of imaginative dreams. The lot acts as a perfect metaphor for the surreal assemblage of people, lifestyles, and aspirations, all of which are either created or encouraged by Hollywood, the dream factory.

San Bernardino Arms

San Bernardino Arms. Hollywood rooming house in which Hackett resides. Given the garishness Hackett finds all about him, this is a rather unprepossessing place: three stories of unpainted stucco and unadorned windows. The rooms are small and dirty, but Hackett tolerates the place because of his fascination with Faye and her restless aspirations. Like his rooms, Hackett does not draw much attention to himself; he would rather observe and record the world about him than...

(The entire section is 692 words.)