The best books about Hollywood

Peter Lefcourt Author Of The Deal: A Novel of Hollywood
By Peter Lefcourt

The Books I Picked & Why

Get Shorty

By Elmore Leonard

Get Shorty

Why this book?

Hollywood is full of bottom feeders and lowlifes, and nobody does these types of characters better than Elmore Leonard. His dialogue is spot on and his situations comically dark. A Florida loan shark chases a deadbeat customer all the way to Hollywood and winds up getting involved in a complex film deal that makes his life as a mobster seem tame by comparison.


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Artistic Differences

By Charlie Hauck

Artistic Differences

Why this book?

This poorly known novel by a television writer deserves more attention. It concerns a writer on a TV sitcom that is plagued by an impossible actress/star who makes everybody’s lives miserable by her egotistical behavior. The revenge that the writer, Jimmy Hoy, contrives for her is both funny and appropriate. There are laugh-out-loud moments in this book that will make you roar.


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The Day of the Locust

By Nathanael West

The Day of the Locust

Why this book?

This is the classic Hollywood novel, written by a superb writer who knew the territory. Set in the thirties, it features the minor people who make movies – the extras and out-of-work actors who are nourished by the elusive dream of being discovered and living the life of fame and fortune. The ending is one of the great comic-apocalyptic scenes written about Hollywood or about anywhere else in America.


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The Player

By Michael Tolkin

The Player

Why this book?

Screenwriter/director Michael Tolkin writes of a world that he knows very well. His protagonist, a successful and ambitious film studio executive, makes promises he has no intention of keeping. When he does this to a writer who has pitched him a story and to whom he has promised to get back with some sort of answer and doesn’t, the writer threatens his life. Suspenseful, dark, and funny in its own troubling way.


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Blue Movie

By Terry Southern

Blue Movie

Why this book?

Any book that starts with the line, “Who do you have to fuck to get off this movie,” has to be terrific, right? Terry Southern, the iconic writer of Candy, writes about a bunch of Hollywood characters who decide to make the perfect X-rated movie and sell it to a mainstream studio. The book is completely outrageous, in the same vein as Southern’s black humor film Dr. Strangelove.


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