JAMES ROBERT BAKER
Fourth Estate, London, 1996
price: £6.99; 424 pages
(first published by Futura Publications, 1988)
The blurb on the back:
Guns blaze; the cops close In; a starlet slumps In melodramatic death and, in the back of an old Chrysler In a Costa Mesa drive-in, a boy is born. A man of destiny, at six months he will have an accident on the upholstery of John Wayne's convertible. This, however, is only the beginning...
Her glorious task fulfilled, mother takes root before the TV, while father rails round the clock about 'niggers, kikes and queers'. Yet as the fifties flicker to their monochrome end, young Shark Trager, legend in waiting, is out living life in ever more lurid technicolour. Spurned teenage desire and a Peeping Tom film debacle erupt Into a lifelong obsession with future model and vapid blonde Callfornian icon, Kathy Petro, a fixation that will skew Trager's cinematic art and dominate his sex life.
The rest is history - and oral history, now that James Robert Baker has recorded the life of a Hollywood hero in the voices of those who knew him best; those who (in mounting perturbation) watched him grow, and those who encountered him in outrageous adulthood. A rollicking, readable monster of a novel - deliciously cynical, joyously funny.
'Anyone who enjoyed the books of Donna Tartt or Michael Chabon will take to Baker's sizzling intelligent prose style.' Attitude