by Shelly Frome
Publisher: Sunbury Press (March 2013)
Print and ebook, 239 Pages
In Tinseltown Riff, Shelly Frome has created something that is more than entertainment. Part noir crime mystery with a nod to 1950s Hollywood detective movies and part comedy of manners (errors?) with quirky, nearly cartoonish yet believably real characters--Keystone Cops costumed and choreographed by Dr Sues--with a message.
But, much like a parable, the message is so subtle and so pervasive it can't be stated succinctly. Which reminds me of Flannery O'Connor's definition of story: “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.” A statement that strikes a mortal blow to the philosophy of the Hollywood producers who won't entertain a story concept that can't be pitched in a thirty second elevator ride.
And of course I'm going to try anyway. It has something to do with the layers of illusion created by the Hollywood Dream Makers woven into the fabric of reality so that real people interacting with it and with each other co-create a surrealistic 'reality' in which the lines between fiction, and real are so blurred most loose the ability to distinguish them. Especially when they intersect inside an individuals sense of self.
Gritty as the sand carried by the Santa Ana winds Tinseltown Riff is a comical romp among the Who's Who and Wannabes of the 21st century Hollywood scene. A very unexpected, even counter-intuitive, mixture of story ambiance that works well.
From the Publishers:
Tinseltown Riff centers on Ben Prine, a thirty-something Hollywood screenwriter who, on a Labor Day weekend, finds himself in desperate straits. Latching on to a dubious last-minute opportunity, he unwittingly embarks on a collision course with a Montana tracker connected with a Vegas mob; an odyssey which culminates in a showdown on an abandoned Western movie set.
What they are saying:
"Tinseltown Riff is a kick - a funny, well-told tale about the world's most insane business." - Peter Lefcourt, Emmy Award winner, screenwriter and best-selling novelist specializing in the Hollywood scene.
"Shelly Frome's Tinseltown Riff takes us on a ride along the Hollywood fringe that is equal parts gritty intrigue and social comedy. In a subculture where get-rich-quick screenwriting workshops are a con and even the Santa Ana winds can be an illusion, Frome's characters are heartbreakingly real. Under this pulp fiction facade lurks an unsettling yet compelling truth about the Dream Factory and its high-risk allure." - John Fusco, mainstream Hollywood screenwriter of Young Guns, Thunderheart, The Forbidden Kingdom, winner of two Bronze Wrangler awards and the Spur Award for Hidalgo, an Academy Award nominee for Best Screenplay and showrunner for Marco Polo.
"Shelly Frome writes with loving attention to the moment and the milieu of Hollywood and the aridity that surrounds it. Some of the best scenes give us a real taste of the Hispanic world most tourists never see. A fast moving and intriguing book with real energy." - Lee Jacobus, book critic, Connecticut Public Radio.
"An amazing writing technique that actually makes the reader feel they are watching a movie. Frome's remarkable details fill each page as if viewing a film scene. You find yourself nearly breathless trying to keep up with the constant action. Danger, humor and narcissistic sex co-exist in the Hollywood world of fantasy and selfish ambition. Each chapter brings a change of direction. All is finally resolved like the Santa Ana Winds finishing their breezy run. Enjoy this Hollywood story, but hold on to your hats, you're in for a ride!" - Herbert Siegel. Amazon Reviewer
"Tinseltown Riff by Shelly Frome took me on a trip through the movie industry that was a surprise and a lot of fun.
From C.J. Rodriguez, the Hispanic wild surfer undercover cop, Leo the mad Russian whose visa is about to expire, Mrs. Melnick who will do anything to get on the Jay Leno show, Ray the sleazy front man from Vegas under the gun from the mob, to Angelique, the desperate rock star on the skids, you'll find people caught between hustle and hope. Oh, and let's not forget Molly, the actress wannabe who happens to be a younger version of the desperate rock star, and Deke, the cowboy with a mission and not much conscience.
On this wild ride through the industry, you'll be watching over Ben's shoulder as he does his best to make it in the Big Time, only to trip and fall, time and time again.
What could all of these people possibly have in common with Ben? Read the book and find out. I did, and I wasn't disappointed. I recommend this story to readers looking to get away from it all, who are looking for an adventure, and who want to be entertained." - A. McGraw, Amazon Reviewer
His fiction includes Lilac Moon, Sun Dance for Andy Horn, the trans-Atlantic cozy The Twinning Murders and Twilight of the Drifter, a southern gothic crime-and-blues odyssey. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Tinseltown Riff, his latest novel, is both a social commentary and a Hollywood crime caper.
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