Item description for Zeroville by Steve Erickson...
Overview Vikar becomes a film editor, the job he always wanted, but but the drugs, music, and sexuality, may be more than he can handle?
Publishers Description It is an August afternoon in 1969. A hippie "family" led by Charles Manson commits five savage murders in the canyons above L.A. The same day, a young, ex-communicated theology student walks Hollywood Boulevard, having just arrived in town with the images of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift tattooed on his shaved head. At once childlike and violent, Vikar is not a cineaste but "cineautistic," sleeping in the Roosevelt Hotel where he is haunted by the ghost of D. W. Griffith. He has stepped into the vortex of a culture in upheaval: drugs that frighten him, a sexuality that consumes him, a music he doesn't understand. He's come to Hollywood to pursue his obsession with film, only to find a Hollywood that's as indifferent to film as it is to Vikar. The movies dominate Zeroville with the force of revelation. Over the decade of the seventies and into the eighties, as the old studios crumble before the onslaught of a new renegade generation, Vikar becomes an unlikely film editor, possessed of an astonishing artistic vision. Through his encounters with starlets, burglars, revolutionaries, escorts, punk musicians and veteran film-makers, he discovers the secret that lies in every motion picture ever made. Combining an epic scope with popular accessibility in the spirit of its subject, Zeroville is the ultimate novel about the Movies, and the way we don't dream them but rather they dream us.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.12" Width: 5.3" Height: 1.08" Weight: 0.82 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2007
Publisher Europa Editions
ISBN 1933372397 ISBN13 9781933372396
Availability 0 units.
More About Steve Erickson
Steve Erickson is the author of several novels, including Tours of the Black Clock, Rubicon Beach, The Sea Came in at Midnight, Our Ecstatic Days and Arc d'X. His novels have been translated into ten languages. Erickson is the editor of the literary magazine Black Clock, published by the California Institute of the Arts, where he teaches writing. He also is the film critic for Los Angeles magazine and the author of These Dreams of You (Europa Editions, 2012). He lives in Topanga Canyon with his wife and son.
Steve Erickson currently resides in Los Angeles, in the state of California.
Reviews - What do customers think about Zeroville?
Less Than the Sum of its Parts Aug 5, 2008
I'd heard of Erickson's books, but never read anything by him until a friend gave this to me as a birthday present, knowing my love of books and film. It's an interesting novel, both easy to read and not at the same time. Set largelt amidst the Hollywood film industry of the 1970s and 80s, it's saturated with film references, but not really about film at all. Film is just used as a way to explore larger themes of -- among other things -- fate, communication, linearity, meaning, and belief.
The story revolves around Vikar, a blank 20something who has fled his claustrophobic religious upbringing and studies at seminary for the world of cinema. He is one of those ultra-naive fictional characters who wander the world either not understanding it, or perhaps understanding it better than the rest of us. His only frame of reference with the rest of the world seems to be through films, and as a result, what little plot exists, is largely driven by Vikar's adventures both working on and watching films, as well as his strange relationship with a mysterious small-time actress (possibly the daughter of Luis Buñuel) and her daughter.
Being familiar with most of the film references sprinkled through the book, it's hard to imagine those less steeped in cinema enjoying the book very much. Not only are there lots of discussions of the meaning of particular scenes or films (including an interesting debate about the end of Casablanca), but the book is studded with real life Hollywood figures who are never named. The colorful writer/director John Milius pops up as an influential recurring character in Vikar's new life under the nickname "Viking Man," and those who are tuned in will recognize other Hollywood figures (including Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Brian DePalma, Robert DeNiro, Michael Cimino, and Margot Kidder bestowing some kindly fellatio). Over time, these allusions grow rather tiresome, as Erickson seems to coyly recognize that to use real names could be problematic (legally speaking), but can't resist the cameos.
In any event, even if you're not a film buff/geek/aficionado, I would strongly suggest at least familiarizing yourself with a few key films before starting the book. There's A Place in the Sun, a scene from which is tattooed on Vikar's head and becomes a running motif. There's Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, a lost cut of which becomes central to his quest. And there's Goddard's Alphaville, from which the book's title and circular construction comes. Similarly, one's enjoyment of the book may well be enhanced by reading two acclaimed histories of the "New Hollywood" cinema of that era, Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Mark Harris's Pictures at a Revolution.
There's a lot of other stuff besides film mixed in as well, such as the Manson murders and the rise of the New York and LA punk scenes (again, with bands that remain unnamed but recognizable, such as X and The Germs). However, by the end I felt much as I did at the end of another notable experimentalist novel, Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves -- rather unmoved by the whole enterprise. Both books contain lots of interesting ideas, neat scenes, solid writing, but are somehow less than the sum of their parts. A much more interesting work of experimental fiction that revolves around Hollywood cinema is David Thomson's Suspects.
American Fiction at the end of Empire Jun 26, 2008
This is another in the long list of boring, nostalgic and overly erudite books in a long string of them in contemporary American fiction. In this case the erudition is of the sort only a yupped out baby boomer could love. I made it through fifty pages before closing it with a thud, never to be opened again. If fiction is any true indication of a culture, and judging by the influential people and publications that liked it, it is, we don't have a lot of hope for what we'll leave the archaeologists. A very bad book. Don't waste your time or money, no matter what Thomas Pynchon says.
Zeroville May 30, 2008
This piece of art is written in a style so original and with such great mystery that it becomes a cinematic experiance right in your hands.Hard to put down and it dares you to read page after page without a rest.
The more you know, the better... maybe May 19, 2008
Here is a perplexing book. Man, I thought I was a film geek. This guy, Erickson, truly knows a lot about film. He's inspired me to rent some things I've never considered, "A Place In The Sun" , for sure.
I found the middle section of this book to be rather tedious- a lot of movie geek banter- but I kept chugging along. I dug the ending. He really brings much of this together by the end, which is strange, but nicely concluded.
I get the impression the more you know about French New Wave, Avant-Gard, black and white classics and sixties and seventies cinema in general, the more you will get out of this book. But that is not to say that it can't be enjoyed by everyone.
I thought I was capable of taking on the task of this book considering I'd read "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls", an historical account of Hollywood cinema from 1967 to 1980, but even Erickson was able to shed some light on the subject of cinema I hadn't known.
I have another one of his books, the now out of print "Arc D'x", sitting on my shelf and "to-read-list", which looks equally mysterious. This is a writer of immense imagination. Try him out if you're willing to penetrate the weird.
Amazing Apr 14, 2008
In college I double majored in Film and Creative Writing, so when I happened to stumble upon ZEROVILLE I felt I found the most perfect book I have ever come across. I felt like it was written FOR me. Not only does Erickson detail the GREAT gems of our cinematic history, he also weaves them in flawlessly in a mysterious and enlightening story. Vikar tends to vex us, as he so warns the people around us, but that is because he is a true innocent. Like the ghost of Montgomery Clift tells him "You got trust in your eyes, like you were just born", Vikar in essence, is a child, a child with a furious belief that movies are God. I recommend this book to ANYONE who loves movies, and I'm talking about GOOD movies, not the crap Hollywood tends to spew out, but the classic ones, the ones that really COULD and DID change the world. Great great wonderful amazing novel.