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Ten Days in the Hills

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Ten Days in the Hills Cover

 

Staff Pick

I have read, and enjoyed, Jane Smiley novels in the past, and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Novel was a masterful study of both notable fiction and the fiction-writing process. But Ten Days in the Hills is now by far my favorite work of hers. Loosely based on the structure of The Decameron, Smiley illuminates the minds of ten very different people for ten days in Hollywood right after the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. Movies, art, politics, secrets, and a lot of sex — this novel might seem gossipy if it weren't so intelligently, deeply, and beautifully written. Smiley is at the top of her game, nailing the human condition both archly and with compassion. A moving, very ambitious, expert portrait of American life in the twenty-first century.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

I have read, and enjoyed, Jane Smiley novels in the past, and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Novel was a masterful study of both notable fiction and the fiction-writing process. But Ten Days in the Hills is now by far my favorite work of hers. Loosely based on the structure of The Decameron, Smiley illuminates the minds of ten very different people for ten days in Hollywood right after the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. Movies, art, politics, secrets, and a lot of sex — this novel might seem gossipy if it weren't so intelligently, deeply, and beautifully written. Smiley is at the top of her game, nailing the human condition both archly and with compassion. A moving, very ambitious, expert portrait of American life in the twenty-first century.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A glorious new novel from the Pulitzer Prize winner: a big, smart, bawdy tale of love and war, sex and politics, friendship and betrayal — and the allure of the movies. With Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron as her model, Jane Smiley takes us through ten transformative, unforgettable days in the Hollywood hills.

It is the morning after the 2003 Academy Awards. Max — an Oscar-winning writer/director whose fame has waned — and his lover, Elena, luxuriate in bed, still groggy from last night's red-carpet festivities. They are talking about movies, talking about love, and talking about the war in Iraq, recently begun. But soon their house will be full of guests, and guests like these demand attention. There is Max's ex-wife, "the legendary Zoe Cunningham," a dazzling half-Jamaican movie star, with her new lover, the enigmatic healer, Paul (fraudulent? enlightened?). Max's agent, Stoney, a perhaps too easygoing version of his legendary agent father, can't stay away, and neither can Zoe and Max's daughter, Isabel, though she would prefer to maintain her hard-won independence. And of course there is the next-door neighbor, Cassie, who seems to know everyone's secrets.

As they share their stories of Hollywood past and present, watch films in Max's opulent screening room, gossip by the swimming pool, and tussle in the many bedrooms, the tension mounts, sparks fly, and Smiley delivers an exquisitely woven, virtuosic work — a Hollywood novel as only she could fashion it, told with bravura, rich with delightful characters, spiced with her signature wit. It is a joyful, sexy, and wondrously insightful pleasure.

Review:

"Smiley (A Thousand Acres) goes Hollywood in this scintillating tale of an extended Decameron-esque L.A. house party. Gathering at the home of washed-up director Max the morning after the 2003 Academy Awards are his Iraq-obsessed girlfriend, Elena; his movie-diva ex-wife Zoe and her yoga instructor-cum-therapist-cum-boyfriend Paul; Max's insufferably PC daughter, Isabel, and his feckless agent, Stoney, who are conducting a secret affair; Zoe's oracular mother, Delphine; and Max's boyhood friend and token Republican irritant Charlie. They watch movies, negotiate their clashing diets and health regimens, indulge in a roundelay of lasciviously detailed sexual encounters and, most of all, talk — holding absurd, meandering, beguiling conversation about movies, Hollywood, relationships, the war and the state of the world. Through it all, they compulsively reimagine daily life as art: Max dreams of making My Lovemaking with Elena, an all-nude, sexually explicit indie talk-fest inspired by My Dinner with Andre, but Stoney wants him to remake the Cossack epic Taras Bulba. Smiley delivers a delightful, subtly observant sendup of Tinseltown folly, yet she treats her characters, their concern with compelling surfaces and their perpetual quest to capture reality through artifice, with warmth and seriousness. In their shallowness, she finds a kind of profundity." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A violent war has begun, and a small group of family and friends has taken refuge in a secluded house high in the hills to escape the fighting. Actually, they are hoping to escape news of the fighting. They're in southern California. The fighting is in the Middle East. But most of them don't approve of the conflict, and, besides, the house where they've holed up has a pool and a terrific room... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Each thorny character has an intriguing backstory, feelings run high, and Smiley is regally omnipotent as she advocates for art, objects to war, and considers tricky questions of power and spirit, love and compassion. Archly sexy and brilliant." Booklist

Review:

"Smiley has put herself on the edge....Ten Days in the Hills achieves a kindred richness." John Updike, the New Yorker

Review:

"The parade of stories has no evident thematic unity, and the characters are frequently irritating....A couple of touching moments toward the end can't redeem this surprising misstep from one of our most gifted novelists." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Smiley forges a blazing farce, a fiery satire of contemporary celebrity culture and a rich, simmering meditation on the price of war and fame and desire." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"The reader segues from leering voyeurism to that milder state, companionship, thrilled with such a panorama of foibles, blunders, egos and insights." Miami Herald

Review:

"A rich meditation on love, war and Hollywood." Charlotte Observer

Review:

"Ms. Smiley is capable of delving into her characters' hearts and minds....[B]ut more often than not, the reader feels that Ms. Smiley is...laboriously illustrating observations about Hollywood that have been made many times before." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"These characters are so listless that the reader loses hope. There will be no discoveries and no confrontations. Being trapped for hundreds of pages in which everybody talks but nothing happens, or will happen, can make a person cranky." Hartford Courant

Review:

"The beauty of Smiley's garrulous new novel is that it sublimates polemics in a breezy narrative upon which she has liberally bestowed her trademark gifts." Elle

Review:

"[S]ly and sexy....[A] satirical frolic reminiscent of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's Moo, though here with more emphasis on Eros than academe. Recommended." Library Journal

Synopsis:

In the wake of the 2003 Academy Awards, a group of friends and family gathers in the Hollywood hills for ten transformative days of love, memories, gossip, movies, and more, including Max, an Oscar-winning writer/director whose career is waning; his lover Elena; his ex-wife, film star Zoe Cunningham; their daughter Isabel; and others. 150,000 first printing.

Synopsis:

Jane Smiley is the author of more than ten novels, as well as four works of nonfiction.She is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, and in 2001 was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 2006. Ms. Smiley lives in Northern California.

About the Author

Jane Smiley is the author of eight previous works of fiction, including The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love & Good Will, A Thousand Acres (which won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize), and Moo. She lives in northern California.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307267351
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Fiction-Literary
Author:
Smiley, Jane
Author:
Jane Smiley
Subject:
Fiction : Literary
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Interpersonal Relations
Subject:
Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Subject:
General
Subject:
Audiobooks -- Fiction.
Subject:
Audio Books-Literature
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literature-Sale Books
Subject:
Romance - Contemporary
Subject:
main_subject
Subject:
all_subjects
Publication Date:
20070213
Binding:
ELECTRONIC
Language:
English
Pages:
449

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » Contemporary

Ten Days in the Hills
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 449 pages Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - English 9780307267351 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I have read, and enjoyed, Jane Smiley novels in the past, and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Novel was a masterful study of both notable fiction and the fiction-writing process. But Ten Days in the Hills is now by far my favorite work of hers. Loosely based on the structure of The Decameron, Smiley illuminates the minds of ten very different people for ten days in Hollywood right after the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. Movies, art, politics, secrets, and a lot of sex — this novel might seem gossipy if it weren't so intelligently, deeply, and beautifully written. Smiley is at the top of her game, nailing the human condition both archly and with compassion. A moving, very ambitious, expert portrait of American life in the twenty-first century.

"Staff Pick" by ,

I have read, and enjoyed, Jane Smiley novels in the past, and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Novel was a masterful study of both notable fiction and the fiction-writing process. But Ten Days in the Hills is now by far my favorite work of hers. Loosely based on the structure of The Decameron, Smiley illuminates the minds of ten very different people for ten days in Hollywood right after the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. Movies, art, politics, secrets, and a lot of sex — this novel might seem gossipy if it weren't so intelligently, deeply, and beautifully written. Smiley is at the top of her game, nailing the human condition both archly and with compassion. A moving, very ambitious, expert portrait of American life in the twenty-first century.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Smiley (A Thousand Acres) goes Hollywood in this scintillating tale of an extended Decameron-esque L.A. house party. Gathering at the home of washed-up director Max the morning after the 2003 Academy Awards are his Iraq-obsessed girlfriend, Elena; his movie-diva ex-wife Zoe and her yoga instructor-cum-therapist-cum-boyfriend Paul; Max's insufferably PC daughter, Isabel, and his feckless agent, Stoney, who are conducting a secret affair; Zoe's oracular mother, Delphine; and Max's boyhood friend and token Republican irritant Charlie. They watch movies, negotiate their clashing diets and health regimens, indulge in a roundelay of lasciviously detailed sexual encounters and, most of all, talk — holding absurd, meandering, beguiling conversation about movies, Hollywood, relationships, the war and the state of the world. Through it all, they compulsively reimagine daily life as art: Max dreams of making My Lovemaking with Elena, an all-nude, sexually explicit indie talk-fest inspired by My Dinner with Andre, but Stoney wants him to remake the Cossack epic Taras Bulba. Smiley delivers a delightful, subtly observant sendup of Tinseltown folly, yet she treats her characters, their concern with compelling surfaces and their perpetual quest to capture reality through artifice, with warmth and seriousness. In their shallowness, she finds a kind of profundity." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Each thorny character has an intriguing backstory, feelings run high, and Smiley is regally omnipotent as she advocates for art, objects to war, and considers tricky questions of power and spirit, love and compassion. Archly sexy and brilliant."
"Review" by , "Smiley has put herself on the edge....Ten Days in the Hills achieves a kindred richness."
"Review" by , "The parade of stories has no evident thematic unity, and the characters are frequently irritating....A couple of touching moments toward the end can't redeem this surprising misstep from one of our most gifted novelists."
"Review" by , "Smiley forges a blazing farce, a fiery satire of contemporary celebrity culture and a rich, simmering meditation on the price of war and fame and desire."
"Review" by , "The reader segues from leering voyeurism to that milder state, companionship, thrilled with such a panorama of foibles, blunders, egos and insights."
"Review" by , "A rich meditation on love, war and Hollywood."
"Review" by , "Ms. Smiley is capable of delving into her characters' hearts and minds....[B]ut more often than not, the reader feels that Ms. Smiley is...laboriously illustrating observations about Hollywood that have been made many times before."
"Review" by , "These characters are so listless that the reader loses hope. There will be no discoveries and no confrontations. Being trapped for hundreds of pages in which everybody talks but nothing happens, or will happen, can make a person cranky."
"Review" by , "The beauty of Smiley's garrulous new novel is that it sublimates polemics in a breezy narrative upon which she has liberally bestowed her trademark gifts."
"Review" by , "[S]ly and sexy....[A] satirical frolic reminiscent of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's Moo, though here with more emphasis on Eros than academe. Recommended."
"Synopsis" by , In the wake of the 2003 Academy Awards, a group of friends and family gathers in the Hollywood hills for ten transformative days of love, memories, gossip, movies, and more, including Max, an Oscar-winning writer/director whose career is waning; his lover Elena; his ex-wife, film star Zoe Cunningham; their daughter Isabel; and others. 150,000 first printing.
"Synopsis" by , Jane Smiley is the author of more than ten novels, as well as four works of nonfiction.She is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, and in 2001 was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 2006. Ms. Smiley lives in Northern California.
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