Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 60 Novels of 2000-2009 Countdown, No. 9

Zeroville by Steve Erickson

Haunted by an abusive religious upbringing, Vikar, a tattoo of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor on his head, comes to Hollywood, where he becomes part of the film industry that fascinates him so. This novel has an original, dreamlike, nearly prophetic vibe -- part film criticism, part story of abuse, part one man's quest to replace contact with humans with movies. In addition to movies, which Vikar sees as happening all at once (all scenes link to all other scenes), he becomes obsessed with the daughter of a ne'er-do-well actress who keeps the girl locked in a car while she tries to have a career. Vikar eventually goes to work with a character seemingly based on John Milius; he also buys prints of films and stores them in his house (this novel begins in 1969, long before videos or DVDs). Like Paul Auster, Erickson seems entranced by the power of movies, and here Erickson captures his enchantment in fiction. This novel mesmerized me; I enjoy fiction about Hollywood, and I like weird stuff, so this novel managed to hit two of my interests at once. The ending is almost a reverse of the one in Gilead; it takes us directly into the story of Abraham and Isaac. It's enjoyable on many levels. 

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