(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Hollywood is Bukowski’s version of a subgenre of the novel called a roman à clef or a “novel with a key or secret meaning.” The key will be immediately apparent to anyone who has seen the film Barfly, as the content of the novel Hollywood concerns the difficulties in writing and producing that film, for which Bukowski wrote the screenplay.

Though Bukowski has altered the proper names in the novel, many of them are easily recognizable if the reader uses some imagination. The film Barfly is called The Dance of Jim Beam, and certain well-known foreign directors appear from time to time with names such as Jon-Luc Modard and Wenner Zergog. The major difference between Bukowski’s four previous novels and Hollywood is that most of the action takes place in Beverly Hills and Hollywood rather than the usual sordid neighborhoods of urban Los Angeles. Some of the sleazier film scenes, however, are actually shot in several of Bukowski’s favorite gin mills, which have now become “sets” for the film. The French director Jon Pinchot, in his quest for authenticity, also decided to use the real inhabitants of these places, the barflies themselves, instead of Hollywood actors. Chinaski himself is regularly called in to demonstrate to the actor portraying him exactly how he conducted himself during his habitual barroom brawls.

The plot consists of the endless ups and downs of acquiring funds...

(The entire section is 578 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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