Why did I love this book?
Hardboiled specialist Horace McCoy made his mark as an unsparing chronicler of Depression-era despair with his 1935 masterpiece They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?. His 1938 novel isn't nearly as good, but it feels so lived-in and sordid that it tells major truths about the dreamers, users, and big talents who populated '30s Hollywood. In it, Ralph and Mona, two modestly talented beautiful losers, hit Tinseltown hungering for stardom. But Ralph, 18 years before the doomed screenwriter hero of Sunset Boulevard, winds up providing stud service to a wealthy older woman and Mona finds her own private hell. The novel is a bleak meditation on exploitation, failure, and corruption in a town where, as one character observes, “Morality never crosses the city limits.”