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The Golden West 1st Editionby Daniel Fuchs
Synopses & Reviews
"Nobody else writes like Daniel Fuchs. I think of him as a natural — a poet who never had to strain after a poetic effect, a magician who made magic look almost too easy." — John Updike, from his Introduction
Brooklyn born and bred, Daniel Fuchs came to Hollywood when he was twenty-six to work on a film based on one of his Collier's short stories. He never left. "Writing for the movies was fine," he later remembered, "the freedom and fun, the hard work," but even finer were the pictures themselves — team-built, mass-market miracles, "brisk and full of urgent meaning." Finest of all, though, were the people — charismatic stars, crackerjack screenwriters, hustling producers, inscrutable directors — their virtues and flaws and egos and disappointments all visible in high relief "because the sunlight over everything was so clear and brilliant."
Fuchs not only wrote screenplays, he also wrote fiction and personal essays, mainly for the New Yorker. The Golden West collects, for the first time, the best of his writings about Hollywood, from a novice screenwriter's diary of 1938 to a mellow insider's memoirs of 1989. The centerpiece of the book is "West of the Rockies," a haunting short novel, set in the 1950s, about a half-mad woman, immature and incapable, who is nevertheless a star, "a quantity indefinable, ephemeral, everlastingly elusive — Hollywood's chief stock in trade." This, and the eight other pieces collected here, are, as Irving Howe observed, "worth placing beside Fitzgerald's and West's evocations of the Hollywood frenzy — that lunatic desperation that keeps these people, their hearts eaten away by success and memory, clinging to slopes to avoid falling into bankruptcy yet still dreaming that, with a yank here, a twist there, they'll again make a cool million."
"[A] superb collection....This is not the romantic Hollywood of The Last Tycoon or the surreal one of The Day of the Locust. But it feels more concretely lived than either." The New York Times Book Review
"Fuchs's fictional and nonfictional depictions of Los Angeles and the movie business...have been assembled with great care and unusual intelligence in this collection. His appraisals are at once lyrical and hard..." The Atlantic Monthly
"[T]he great strength of The Golden West lies...in Fuchs' simple and direct meditations, unforced by the pressure to fictionalize, on his good luck at finding good work and good friends in a good climate." Los Angeles Times
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