Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – by Quentin Tarantino

by Quentin Tarantino

goodreads

Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited first work of literature – at once hilarious, delicious, and brutal – is the always surprising, sometimes shocking new novel based on his Academy Award-winning film

RICK DALTON – Once he had his own TV series, but now Rick’s a washed-up villain-of-the week drowning his sorrows in whiskey sours. Will a phone call from Rome save his fate or seal it?

CLIFF BOOTH – Rick’s stunt double, and the most infamous man on any movie set because he’s the only one there who might have gotten away with murder….

SHARON TATE – She left Texas to chase a movie-star dream, and found it. Sharon’s salad days are now spent on Cielo Drive, high in the Hollywood Hills.

CHARLES MANSON – The ex-con’s got a bunch of zonked-out hippies thinking he’s their spiritual leader, but he’d trade it all to be a rock ‘n’ roll star.

HOLLYWOOD 1969 – YOU SHOULDA BEEN THERE

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Carmen Fowler LaBerge 5.0 out of 5 stars I never saw the movie, but I read the book

I’m not a fan of Quentin Tarantino in the traditional sense. I’ve never seen a Quentin Tarantino movie. But I like the guy and I was intrigued by the project: a novelization of a movie delivered in packaging consistent with the era. Publishing a book as a cheap trade paperback was genius and Harper Collins should be commended for going along with Tarantino’s inspiration. It works.
The book is a good read with several parallel (ultimately intersecting) storylines that arrive at what I can only assume is essentially the beginning of the movie. And, with some knowledge of history, the reader knows what happens after The Last Chapter.

Tarantino adeptly weaves history and story together in a way that leaves you wondering on every page, “did that really happen?” You are definitely going to ask, “Is that how the military teaches people to kill other people in hand to hand combat?” and “Was Bruce Lee really like that?” The reader learns insider lingo and gets on-set access to spaces and places, personalities and moments in history known only to the most insider of Hollywood insiders. It’s probably good that most of the people featured in the book are dead. I suspect they’d have some things to say about how they are portrayed.

Tarantino grants some VERY personal nods in this novel – to his step dad, to the guy who gave him his first dog, and to the fact that The Fourteen Fists of McCluskey (aka Hell River 1974) was his favorite movie when he was very young. There’s a personal storyline running through the novel for the author. The Hollywood featured in the novel is Tarantino’s Hollywood, the Hollywood of intersecting lives and disposable people. And if the author can be known by the world he creates on the page, reading this gives you a view into the mind of Quentin Tarantino you would not otherwise have.

I think I understand why all his movies are shot from one camera: it’s literally the way HE sees the story. His admiration of Roman Polansky is clear (230-231) and any question about why Tarantino bought The New Beverly is answered (217) as are a million other questions you would have asked about Hollywood if you’d known to ask them.

If you have sensitivity to derogatory descriptive language of people (women, gay men, people from Japan, etc), sex, parts of the male and female anatomy…this book is NOT for you. I suspect that only Quentin Tarantino could get away with saying many of the things said in this book. That said, ethical questions are raised in the subtext of this novel on nearly every page.

The character and story development are masterful and the book leaves you wanting to know more about what happens next. Which is exactly what a 1978 novelization of a movie is designed to deliver.

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