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The Hollywood Novel

Updated: February 22, 2013

West, Nathanel.
Call Number: Ed.d

West's novel about the bottom feeders, has-beens and hangers-on of the Hollywood studio system was a flop when it was first published in 1939 but has since gone on to become, along with The Last Tycoon, the epitome of the Hollywood novel. Coincidently, Nathanael West died in an automobile accident on December 22, 1940, one day after the death of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Wagner, Bruce.

This novel is a series of linked short stories detailing the downward psychological, moral and career spiral of Bud Wiggin, a failed screenwriter/limo driver. Wagner, also wrote a loosely connected trilogy of Hollywood novels, Losing You, I'll Let You Go, and Still Holding.

Chandler, Raymond, 1888-1959.
Call Number: M Ed.a

Chandler's plots are not easy to summarize, but in this story Philip Marlowe is on a missing person case that takes him through the seedy underbelly of Hollywood. Chandler used his experience as a screenwriter for Paramount to inform this book, and his disdain for everything Hollywood comes through.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Francis Scott), 1896-1940.
Call Number: Ed.d

When F. Scott Fitzgerald died at age 44 in 1940, he left a half-finished novel about the career of an Irving Thalberg-like figure named Monroe Stahr. Fitzgerald’s friend, the literary critic Edmund Wilson, edited the manuscript and the book was released as The Last Tycoon in 1941. In 1993, Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli put together a new critical edition using Fitzgerald’s notes and restoring Fitzgerald’s intended title. See also, The Pat Hobby Stories, a collection of short stories about a failed Hollywood screenwriter that Fitzgerald wrote for Esquire towards the end of his life.

Waugh, Evelyn, 1903-1966.
Call Number: Ed.c

In 1947 Evelyn Waugh took a trip to California to negotiate the screen rights to Brideshead Revisited. The negotiations proved unsuccessful, but Waugh did leave Southern California with the idea for this short satirical novel about what he saw as the absurdities of Hollywood and the gaudy tastelessness of Forest Lawn.

Graham, Carroll.
Call Number: Ed.a

The queer people of the title are the denizens of Hollywood as found at the end of the silent era by Whitey, a newspaper reporter who comes to Hollywood and drinks his way into a job as a screenwriter. Not the first novel about Hollywood, but one that became the archetype for those that followed.

O'Brien, Darcy.
Call Number: Ed.a

Darcy O'Brien, the son of 1930s movie stars George O'Brien and Marguerite Churchill, wrote this fictionalized account of his childhood. With his parents divorced and his family's lavish lifestyle long gone, O'Brien spent most of the 1940s and 50s bouncing between his father, a down-on-his-luck former cowboy star and his mother, a faded actress.

Schulberg, Budd.
Call Number: Ed.b

The rise of Sammy Glick, product of the Lower East Side slums of New York, who journeys from copy boy to the pinnacle of Hollywood while leaving many victims in his wake. The son of a Hollywood executive, author Budd Schulberg used an amalgam of real Hollywood personalities to create Glick. See also Schulberg’s The Disenchanted, a roman á clef about his experience collaborating on a screenplay with the post-crackup F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Viertel, Peter.

Peter Viertel’s novel about his experiences working in Africa as a scriptwriter for director John Huston while they were filming The African Queen. The main character, an exaggerated version of Huston, is fixated on shooting an elephant to the detriment of his film and crew.

Erickson, Steve.


Vikar, obsessed with movies and fleeing his strict Calvinist upbringing in Pennsylvania, arrives in Los Angeles on the day of the Tate-LaBianca murders. With a tattoo of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun tattooed on his shaved head he wanders through Hollywood of the 1970s and eventually uncovers a dark secret of the movies. David Lynch meets Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.