August 01, 1994 12:00 PM

by Craig Nova

In the Hollywood of Craig Nova’s imagination, elephants run wild, funerals become family entertainment, and blackmail is the currency of the day—for petty criminals and movie producers alike. It is also a place where no one is happy—not the hard-bitten Hollywood mogul under constant pressure from the bankers back East, not the pretty, down-on-her-luck California girl he falls for, and most definitely not the thug who threatens them with extortion. This Hollywood is a boulevard of broken dreams, where everyone is damaged and struggling to find purpose and dignity in places they don’t belong.

Nova’s writing glistens with the black tones of Raymond Chandler, but the world of Dreams is all unrelieved nightmare. Nothing good happens, at least not deliberately. Nova’s producer, for example, notes that three-quarters of all movies get made only because of blackmail. “What’s the other quarter?” asks his beloved. “[A] mistake,” he replies. “Good movies get made when no one is keeping an eye out.” The author of seven previous novels and a Hollywood native who moved to Vermont more than a decade ago, Nova obviously knows whence he writes. (Ticknor & Fields, $22.95)

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