American Dream Machine by Matthew Specktor

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More interesting, ultimately, is Specktor’s exhaustive knowledge of Southern California and the personalities that rise and fall within its arid, protean boundaries.
-NY Times

Synopsis

The story of two talent agents and their three troubled boys, heirs to Hollywood royalty; a sweeping narrative about fathers and sons, the movie business, and the sundry sea changes that have shaped Hollywood and, by extension, American life.

American Dream Machine is the story of an iconic striver, a classic self-made man in the vein of Jay Gatsby or Augie March. It's the story of a talent agent and his troubled sons, two generations of Hollywood royalty. It's a sweeping narrative about parents and children, the movie business, and the sundry sea changes that have shaped Hollywood, and by extension, American life. Beau Rosenwald―overweight, not particularly handsome, and improbably charismatic―arrives in Los Angeles in 1962 with nothing but an ill-fitting suit and a pair of expensive brogues. By the late 1970s he has helped found the most successful agency in Hollywood. Through the eyes of his son, we watch Beau and his partner go to war, waging a seismic battle that redraws the lines of an entire industry. We watch Beau rise and fall and rise again, in accordance with the cultural transformations that dictate the fickle world of movies. We watch Beau's partner, the enigmatic and cerebral Williams Farquarsen, struggle to contain himself, to control his impulses and consolidate his power. And we watch two generations of men fumble and thrive across the LA landscape, learning for themselves the shadows and costs exacted by success and failure. Mammalian, funny, and filled with characters both vital and profound, American Dream Machine is a piercing interrogation of the role―nourishing, as well as destructive―that illusion plays in all our lives.
 

About Matthew Specktor

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Matthew Specktor was born in Los Angeles. He received his degrees from Hampshire College and Warren Wilson College. The son of a talent agent, Specktor grew up at the epicenter of the motion picture business, and worked as an executive for such companies as Tribeca Productions (Meet The Parents, Analyze This), Jersey Films (Pulp Fiction, Erin Brockovich) and Fox 2000 (Fight Club). The author of one previous novel, That Summertime Sound, and one nonfiction book, The Sting, Specktor's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Harper's, Salon, The Believer, Black Clock, The Paris Review Daily, and Open City, among other publications. He is presently collaborating with James Franco on a film adaptation of Steve Erickson's novel Zeroville, and working with Stephen Elliott on an adaptation of Elliott's novel Happy Baby. Both films are scheduled for production in 2013. He has been a MacDowell Colony fellow, and is a founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books.
 
Published January 1, 2013 by Little Brown Ome. 466 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for American Dream Machine
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Christine Sneed on May 31 2013

More interesting, ultimately, is Specktor’s exhaustive knowledge of Southern California and the personalities that rise and fall within its arid, protean boundaries.

Read Full Review of American Dream Machine | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Tim Lewis on Apr 27 2013

American Dream Machine skips along easily, which is impressive considering the brilliant and wacky details that Specktor has packed in.

Read Full Review of American Dream Machine | See more reviews from Guardian

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