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Hollywood: A Third Memoir

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"One thing I’ve always liked about Hollywood is its zip, or speed. The whole industry depends to some extent on talent spotting. The hundreds of agents, studio executives, and producers who roam the streets of the city of Los Angeles let very little in the way of talent slip by." In this final installment of the memoir trilogy that includes Books and Literary Life, Larry M "One thing I’ve always liked about Hollywood is its zip, or speed. The whole industry depends to some extent on talent spotting. The hundreds of agents, studio executives, and producers who roam the streets of the city of Los Angeles let very little in the way of talent slip by." In this final installment of the memoir trilogy that includes Books and Literary Life, Larry McMurtry, "the master of the show-stopping anecdote" (O: The Oprah Magazine) turns his own keenly observing eye to his rollercoaster romance with Hollywood. As both the creator of numerous works successfully adapted by others for film and television (Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, and the Emmy-nominated The Murder of Mary Phagan) and the author of screenplays including The Last Picture Show (with Peter Bogdanovich), Streets of Laredo, and the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (both with longtime writing partner Diana Ossana), McMurtry has seen all the triumphs and frustrations that Tinseltown has to offer a writer, and he recounts them in a voice unfettered by sentiment and yet tinged with his characteristic wry humor. Beginning with his sudden entrée into the world of film as the author of Horseman, Pass By—adapted into the Paul Newman–starring Hud in 1963—McMurtry regales readers with anecdotes that find him holding hands with Cybill Shepherd, watching Jennifer Garner’s audition tape, and taking lunch at Chasen’s again and again. McMurtry fans and Hollywood hopefuls alike will find much to cherish in these pages, as McMurtry illuminates life behind the scenes in America’s dream factory.


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"One thing I’ve always liked about Hollywood is its zip, or speed. The whole industry depends to some extent on talent spotting. The hundreds of agents, studio executives, and producers who roam the streets of the city of Los Angeles let very little in the way of talent slip by." In this final installment of the memoir trilogy that includes Books and Literary Life, Larry M "One thing I’ve always liked about Hollywood is its zip, or speed. The whole industry depends to some extent on talent spotting. The hundreds of agents, studio executives, and producers who roam the streets of the city of Los Angeles let very little in the way of talent slip by." In this final installment of the memoir trilogy that includes Books and Literary Life, Larry McMurtry, "the master of the show-stopping anecdote" (O: The Oprah Magazine) turns his own keenly observing eye to his rollercoaster romance with Hollywood. As both the creator of numerous works successfully adapted by others for film and television (Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, and the Emmy-nominated The Murder of Mary Phagan) and the author of screenplays including The Last Picture Show (with Peter Bogdanovich), Streets of Laredo, and the Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain (both with longtime writing partner Diana Ossana), McMurtry has seen all the triumphs and frustrations that Tinseltown has to offer a writer, and he recounts them in a voice unfettered by sentiment and yet tinged with his characteristic wry humor. Beginning with his sudden entrée into the world of film as the author of Horseman, Pass By—adapted into the Paul Newman–starring Hud in 1963—McMurtry regales readers with anecdotes that find him holding hands with Cybill Shepherd, watching Jennifer Garner’s audition tape, and taking lunch at Chasen’s again and again. McMurtry fans and Hollywood hopefuls alike will find much to cherish in these pages, as McMurtry illuminates life behind the scenes in America’s dream factory.

30 review for Hollywood: A Third Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Read so long ago, I don't recall much of the details. But I pretty much always like his memoirs. 2020 reread: as much fun as I recalled. Ol' Larry was a master storyteller. He liked Hollywood, and liked LA. He tells some wonderful stories. One of my favorites was when he started a Hollywood fashion trend by wearing Levi's with a tuxedo jacket to the Academy Awards, to accept (with co-author Diana Ossana) the award for, um, the gay cowboy screenplay. Brokeback Mtn. Which I've never actually seen, Read so long ago, I don't recall much of the details. But I pretty much always like his memoirs. 2020 reread: as much fun as I recalled. Ol' Larry was a master storyteller. He liked Hollywood, and liked LA. He tells some wonderful stories. One of my favorites was when he started a Hollywood fashion trend by wearing Levi's with a tuxedo jacket to the Academy Awards, to accept (with co-author Diana Ossana) the award for, um, the gay cowboy screenplay. Brokeback Mtn. Which I've never actually seen, not being much of a movie guy. That said, you don't have to care much about movies to enjoy his memoir about writing (and selling) screenplays. More like 4.5 stars, rounded up. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Though probably best known for his fiction of the old and contemporary west, Larry McMurtry really had three very successful, albeit overlapping, careers: novelist, scriptwriter for Hollywood movies and television, and antiquarian book collector. Credit must be given to authorship as the first of those three careers. But almost from the publication of his first book, Horseman, Pass By (made into a hugely-successful movie, Hud, that won three Academy Awards), the launching of his two other career Though probably best known for his fiction of the old and contemporary west, Larry McMurtry really had three very successful, albeit overlapping, careers: novelist, scriptwriter for Hollywood movies and television, and antiquarian book collector. Credit must be given to authorship as the first of those three careers. But almost from the publication of his first book, Horseman, Pass By (made into a hugely-successful movie, Hud, that won three Academy Awards), the launching of his two other careers were not far behind. Similar to the first two volumes of his memoir (Books: A Memoir and Literary Life: A Second Memoir), McMurtry adopts a very casual, conversational narrative style. It is as if he is responding to simple, chatty questions about his adventures in Hollywood. Every chapter ranges in length from less than one page to no more than three pages, which makes for a fast read (one sitting for me). McMurtry offers plenty of humor in his stories, some fascinating trivia, and a certain amount of humble self-deprecation about his accomplishments. McMurtry’s Hollywood education was close to hundred percent on-the-job training. At the time he began to get assignments, he admits that he “had never even seen a screenplay.” He further acknowledges that: “I was a stranger in a strange land, but I was, at least, willing to learn: the problem was that no one was inclined to teach me…” To some extent, he must have sensed that the Hollywood work was a good fit based on his observation that, “despite my evident ignorance, I kept on getting jobs.” McMurtry shows a surprising adaptability to the quirky nature of Hollywood work, one classic example being when tasks that should have taken minutes to complete took forever, and those that warranted deeper thought and consideration had to be delivered in a frantic rush. One instance of good fortune was a writing partnership he developed with Diana Ossana. Their joint effort on the screenplay of Brokeback Mountain won them an Academy Award. Part of his time in Hollywood inevitably meant direct contact with famous household names covering all aspects of the movie industry—not just renowned actors and actresses, but also movie directors and producers, and movie-making companies. Taken as a whole, McMurtry’s three memoirs are an astonishingly accurate resumé of his life’s work and experience, written in an engaging and thoroughly entertaining style. And though he assigns the memoirs a sequence, I inadvertently read them out of sequence—namely, numbers two, one, three—without even the slightest adverse consequence. The volumes stand up very well in terms of independence. If you are a fan of McMurtry’s fiction, read these brilliant memoirs. They will give you an added appreciation for the breadth and caliber of his work as screenplay writer, novelist, and antiquarian book collector. Of course, I’m now anxiously awaiting a print biography and a movie biography of one of America’s most popular writers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Simon Robs

    This book, his last in the memoir triumvirate, ("Books & Literary Life") celebrates the Hollywood of the 60's, 70's, 80's & beyond as told from an outlier screenwriter's tale. His first book "Horseman, Pass by" was made into a the film "Hud" starring Paul Newman and this began his long running relationship with Tinsel Town execs (even 'randy' Harvey Weinstein, haha) as well as screen stars, some the aging icons from old Hollywood all of whom don't really tussle McMurtry's hardscrabble mien nor h This book, his last in the memoir triumvirate, ("Books & Literary Life") celebrates the Hollywood of the 60's, 70's, 80's & beyond as told from an outlier screenwriter's tale. His first book "Horseman, Pass by" was made into a the film "Hud" starring Paul Newman and this began his long running relationship with Tinsel Town execs (even 'randy' Harvey Weinstein, haha) as well as screen stars, some the aging icons from old Hollywood all of whom don't really tussle McMurtry's hardscrabble mien nor his middle C, he's an outsider but not a bumpkin - screenwriters and book authors were low totem pole'ers back then, probably still. Anyway, he name drops as he works through his catalogue of book-to-film titles having varying levels of involvement but getting an insiders proximity to all that jazz of movie making & celeb culture. He's very gracious McMurtry is, maybe he took Newman's stance to mold the hype into his version of Venus de Milo.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    3.5 stars. My least favorite of the three memoirs but still full of McMurtry goodness.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    McMurtry is one of my all-time favorite authors. Hollywood is the third book in his autobiographical trilogy; of the three it is by far the best. When I first learned Larry was sub-dividing his life story I suspected it was some sort of scam to sell more books - kind of a one story for the price of three promotion. With some of his weaker books I have felt he was writing for commercial success alone or pressured by a publisher's deadline to complete a story. Hollywood is McMurtry's frank story a McMurtry is one of my all-time favorite authors. Hollywood is the third book in his autobiographical trilogy; of the three it is by far the best. When I first learned Larry was sub-dividing his life story I suspected it was some sort of scam to sell more books - kind of a one story for the price of three promotion. With some of his weaker books I have felt he was writing for commercial success alone or pressured by a publisher's deadline to complete a story. Hollywood is McMurtry's frank story about writing to earn a living as opposed to the somewhat romantic view I like to hold of the lone writer working out his angst on paper to save the world! Of the three part series, it is this one in which McMurtry is most vulnerable and most revealing about himself. Hollywood is a fun, quick read by a writer who has made a significant contribution to the literature as well as to the screen.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Grandma Weaver

    I liked this book much more than the first two of this memoir. I almost felt like he was just sitting and telling me about his time and experiences. He told stoies about actors and directors, some I had heard about before but more that I hadn't. Hollywood is a strange town. The bottom line is the reason/chance for every movie made. He talks about working on a project for ten years and still have it fall thru. I thought some of the best stories were about agents. Some were really cutthroat storie I liked this book much more than the first two of this memoir. I almost felt like he was just sitting and telling me about his time and experiences. He told stoies about actors and directors, some I had heard about before but more that I hadn't. Hollywood is a strange town. The bottom line is the reason/chance for every movie made. He talks about working on a project for ten years and still have it fall thru. I thought some of the best stories were about agents. Some were really cutthroat stories and others very sweet, in particlar Irving Lazur. (I hope I got his name correct) While I really liked this book I must confess to loving McMurty. I think I have all his books and have read almost all of them. I think I might marry him when I grow up. lol.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Iva

    Larry McMurtry's take on Hollywood is unique as he has shifted between being a screenwriter and author. He is comfortable with Hollywood people, exposes the snobs, but has made real friends there such as Diane Keaton and Swifty Lazar. It is a quick read as were the two memoirs that preceeded it, but full of industry tidbits. A must for McMurtry fans -- wait til you read about McMurtry impersonators -- and those wanting to understand the workings of Hollywood. Larry McMurtry's take on Hollywood is unique as he has shifted between being a screenwriter and author. He is comfortable with Hollywood people, exposes the snobs, but has made real friends there such as Diane Keaton and Swifty Lazar. It is a quick read as were the two memoirs that preceeded it, but full of industry tidbits. A must for McMurtry fans -- wait til you read about McMurtry impersonators -- and those wanting to understand the workings of Hollywood.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brenden Gallagher

    Today is the day after Larry McMurtry's death. Though I didn't know it until this year, Larry McMurtry has had a deep influence on my work. His "Last Picture Show" is an ur-text for the kind of films I particularly enjoy and hope to someday make. His "Brokeback Mountain" and "Lonesome Dove" did much to keep the Western genre, one of my favorites, alive. He captured life between the coasts and sold that authenticity to the coasts, a career trajectory I hope to emulate with an ounce of the genius Today is the day after Larry McMurtry's death. Though I didn't know it until this year, Larry McMurtry has had a deep influence on my work. His "Last Picture Show" is an ur-text for the kind of films I particularly enjoy and hope to someday make. His "Brokeback Mountain" and "Lonesome Dove" did much to keep the Western genre, one of my favorites, alive. He captured life between the coasts and sold that authenticity to the coasts, a career trajectory I hope to emulate with an ounce of the genius and workmanlike attitude he brought to his craft. Unlike many other authors, McMurtry had the courtesy to divide his memoirs by age and topic. As a screenwriter, I was obviously more interested in his time in Hollywood than any other aspect of his life, and I am grateful that McMurtry left behind a concise, breezy volume about his time in the entertainment business packed full of plenty of wit and wisdom. I will someday seek out his earlier memoirs, which I imagine focus on his Texas childhood and his career in letters, but I was grateful to have this slim volume to work through in just four hours of listening. There are plenty of wonderful anecdotes in "Hollywood" and McMurtry offers plenty of excellent insight on the life of a working screenwriter. While there are lots of great nuggets, my personal favorite is the observation that "You'll never work in this town again," is bullshit because Hollywood has a deficit of talent and an excess of people who need to make money off of other peoples' talent. I also deeply admire that he wore jeans and cowboy boots to the Oscars. Couldn't be me, but we must celebrate an original. The most important thing about this book is that Larry McMurtry actually loved Hollywood and loved Los Angeles. He says that while he agrees it is a glittering city as so many assert with disdain, he points out that the glitter, at least some of it, is real. I too love Los Angeles and Hollywood and while so many of my peers bitch and complain as they fantasize about the first moment they can leave town, I imagine I will go out like Gram Parsons, my ashes scattered to the wind in Joshua Tree. Except, of course, I hope to do so at an age closer to McMurtry's than to Parsons'. Rest in Peace, Mr. McMurtry, you were a true original. I hope you rest easy knowing that your legacy looms as large in Hollywood as it does in your beloved Texas.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vel Veeter

    If Larry McMurtry is to be believed, and why wouldn’t he be, he’s to blame for Tom Hanks inflicting us with his constant discussions of typewriters. Apparently Larry McMurtry famously has written all his work on typewriters and said as much in interviews around Brokeback Mountain’s fame. Because he won the Oscar for his writing for that film and famously showed up to the Oscars in jeans and a tux jacket, he put the germ of typewriters into Tom Hanks’s head and here we go. So this book also focuse If Larry McMurtry is to be believed, and why wouldn’t he be, he’s to blame for Tom Hanks inflicting us with his constant discussions of typewriters. Apparently Larry McMurtry famously has written all his work on typewriters and said as much in interviews around Brokeback Mountain’s fame. Because he won the Oscar for his writing for that film and famously showed up to the Oscars in jeans and a tux jacket, he put the germ of typewriters into Tom Hanks’s head and here we go. So this book also focuses heavily on his Hollywood days. In part this is about how his books became movies, but more so how he became a kind of script maven because his novels had become successful movies. His first novel Horseman Pass By became the movie Hud and that offered him the chance to write a lot of screenplays. If you look at his IMDB page, you don’t see much, but apparently his job was to start the screenplay up, create characters and plot and setting, and then someone else would take over and create the structure of the narrative and the dialog. So even though there’s been a handful of movies based on his novels, he was only ever involved in a couple. So something like Brokeback Mountain was the sole creation of Larry McMurtry and his writing partner Diana Ossana (who was also a producer) from the work of Annie Proulx. It’s interesting because I remember him being around during that Oscar season and I recall thinking…oh, weird that’s the Lonesome Dove guy. I didn’t realize I would be here. And so the same kinds of weird stories that pepper his The Literary Life, you get here talking about people in and around Hollywood. A lot about Peter Bogdanovich and Diane Keaton mostly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    (Note: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book. 3 = Very good; 4 = Outstanding {only about 5% of the books I read merit this}; 5 = All time favorites {one of these may come along every 400-500 books}) I have now read or listened to Larry McMurtry's 3 memoirs. I'd rate Books the best (3 stars), Hollywood the second best (two stars) and Literary Life third (one star). It was interesting to hear McMurtry in this one say that he likes Terms of Endearment the best of his novels and is n (Note: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book. 3 = Very good; 4 = Outstanding {only about 5% of the books I read merit this}; 5 = All time favorites {one of these may come along every 400-500 books}) I have now read or listened to Larry McMurtry's 3 memoirs. I'd rate Books the best (3 stars), Hollywood the second best (two stars) and Literary Life third (one star). It was interesting to hear McMurtry in this one say that he likes Terms of Endearment the best of his novels and is not too fond of The Last Picture Show. Hands down I like Lonesome Dove the best. The most surprising thing in this book is how many scripts and screenplays he has written and how many of them never made it to film. He has had at least 22 of his works made into movies or tv shows but he has done more than that that have not yet been produced. The one I would have been interested to read/see is one on an Evangelist (particularly inspired by Billy Sunday). There are a lot of funny stories here.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suzi

    I started these memoirs the day Larry McMurtry died, not knowing he'd just passed. Each is entertaining and informative and easy to read. Also, short! The author photos are of a younger McMurtry and attractive. I wish more memoirs were as honest (and as vain in parts) as these. I went to TCU just after he left. I can't remember my English teachers (English lit, yes!) but I would have played ping pong for a grade as McMurtry required. I started these memoirs the day Larry McMurtry died, not knowing he'd just passed. Each is entertaining and informative and easy to read. Also, short! The author photos are of a younger McMurtry and attractive. I wish more memoirs were as honest (and as vain in parts) as these. I went to TCU just after he left. I can't remember my English teachers (English lit, yes!) but I would have played ping pong for a grade as McMurtry required.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patti K

    McMurtry makes good company This Larry McMurtry memoir completes his trilogy of memoirs beginning with Books, an A Literary Life. All three give the reader the pleasure of a conversation with this Texan man of letters. Full of book talk from this prolific fiction and nonfiction author, rare books seller, and Hollywood screenwriter whose work paid for his first two passions. A joy to spend time with this author. Recommend.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rod

    Umm, yeah, it was a quick read. Not a whole lot of interest here; I found myself most intrigued by a brief reminiscence on the bookstores that used to exist in Hollywood/L.A., which maybe just shows where my interests lie. My least favorite of his three mini-memoirs (I would point readers to Books first and A Literary Life next).

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    3.5 stars marked up to 4 by Goodreads. Entertaining and ultimately inconsequential first- person account of the author’s dealings with the movie and tv industries. Many trenchant comments about the self-important personalities he encountered along the way. Also generous praise for folks who actually contributed something to the process.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donald Rice

    Did you know Larry McMurtry and Diane Keaton were good friends? Such interesting insight to a side of Hollywood from the perspective of a writer especially a writer who used to ride horses in west Texas. Unbelievable story about a man from no where and words to took him to one of the most out of world places - Hollywood.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Frank Finn

    Adventures in Hollywood Enjoyable account of the Texas novelist’s experiences in the screenwriting trade, culminating in his Oscar win for the adapted screenplay of Brokeback Mountain.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    If you are a Larry McMurtry fan and/or film buff, you would enjoy this memoir. I am not sure how much appeal it would hold for other readers. Since I am both a McMurtry fan and a lover of films, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Margheim

    A short memoir but packed full of great anecdotes and stories from McMurtry’s start in Hollywood with HUD and going through his experience with Brokeback Mountain. Funny, self aware, and no bullshit. Really enjoyed this short memoir.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Buchanan

    Boring.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Brief. Breezy. Lots of names dropped, a few a I knew, most I did not. If you're looking for real stories, Hollywood dirt, you won't find it here. Most "stories" are covered in a sentence or two. Brief. Breezy. Lots of names dropped, a few a I knew, most I did not. If you're looking for real stories, Hollywood dirt, you won't find it here. Most "stories" are covered in a sentence or two.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marylu Sanok

    okay, nothing more

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I like the other non-fiction by McMurty I have read, esp. Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, but this is meandering and, in some places, vaguely misogynist.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Frasca

    Fun gossip about that odd place.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    I guess I should have read his first two memoirs first but I felt that this book started in the middle of nowhere. It was kind of boring.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Riley Hamilton

    A breezy fun trip through Larry McMurtry’s adventures in Hollywood.

  26. 4 out of 5

    JW

    Based on this, I never want to work in Hollywood. Ever.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    McMurtry's memoirs are delights to read, and this one is no exception. McMurtry's memoirs are delights to read, and this one is no exception.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Frodo

    A little diversionary reading about Hollywood by a successful writer with enjoyable anecdotes to share.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    Some good nuggets. The chapter about the famous talent agent Irving Lazar, who was McMurtry's, was whoa. What a... character? But McMurtry doesn't give much away about himself which was disappointing. The focus is Hollywood, yes, but I wanted to know more about the man. As most Texans I know, and grew up with, he held his cards rather tightly. Some good nuggets. The chapter about the famous talent agent Irving Lazar, who was McMurtry's, was whoa. What a... character? But McMurtry doesn't give much away about himself which was disappointing. The focus is Hollywood, yes, but I wanted to know more about the man. As most Texans I know, and grew up with, he held his cards rather tightly.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    This is the least awful of McMutry's three short memoirs, but its still pretty awful. This is the least awful of McMutry's three short memoirs, but its still pretty awful.

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