The Hollywood Life: A Reading List

Actors Anonymous James FrancoThis round of the Riot Recommendation is sponsored by Actors Anonymous by James Franco.

The actors in James Franco’s brilliant debut novel include a McDonald’s drive-thru operator who spends his shift trying on accents; an ex-child star recalling a massive beachside bacchanal; hospital volunteers and Midwestern transplants; a vampire flick starlet who discovers a cryptic book written by a famous actor gone AWOL; and the ghost of River Phoenix. Then there’s Franco himself, who prowls backstage, peering out between the lines-before taking the stage with fascinating meditations on his art, along with nightmarish tales of excess. “Hollywood has always been a private club,” he writes. “I open the gates. I say welcome. I say, Look inside.”

Told in a dizzying array of styles-from lyric essays and disarming testimonials to hilariously rambling text messages and ghostly footnotes-and loosely modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,Actors Anonymous is an intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity.

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Readers have been fascinated by celebrity since long before TMZ was a glimmer in Harvey Levin’s eye. Hollywood–the glamor, the scandals, the scads of beautiful people–captures the imagination and just begs to be the backdrop for all kinds of stories. In this Riot Rec, we asked you to share your favorite novels about Hollywood and celebrity. You came up with quite a list!

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Fiction

The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West

The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Valley of the Dolls  by Jacqueline Susann

The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Player by Michael Tolkin

Hollywood by Charles Bukowski

Until I Find You by John Irving

The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub

Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins

Drama

Tales From Hollywood  by Christopher Hampton

Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams

Nonfiction 

Hollywood Animal and The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood by Joe Eszterhas

The Kid Stays In The Picture by Robert Evans

You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again by Julia Phillips

Bring on the Empty Horses and The Moon’s a Balloon  by David Niven

Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise by Sam Irvin

Mommie Dearest by Christina Crawford

The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans

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