I really loved Nick Cole's Control Alt Revolt. So I was delighted to receive an electronic review copy of Cole's new book, Fight the Rooster. Unfortunately, I was not quite as delighted with this book.
The story is simple, in a way. A famous, successful director is tired of his career, and feels like the only way out is to be pushed out. So he sets out to make a terrible, indefensibly expensive dog of a movie so that the studio heads will get rid of him and he'll never be offered a job in Hollywood ever again. Then he can retire in obscurity in Alaska. In the process, Cole parts the curtain on the crazy, ridiculous, sometimes hilarious world of the movies. It will leave you wondering how a movie ever gets made.
Cole fleshes out a wide array of Hollywood types: the A-list actors on the declining arc of their careers, the cinematographer whose pretension led him to leave the industry (but who would like another shot), the drug-addled hanger on, the naif who comes to LA to get her big break, and on and on. One of my favorites was the therapist who took on whatever addictions his patients were trying to get rid of. Needless to say, his life was a mess. Weaving their stories into the larger story is part of the fun, but the story itself bogged down.
Cole's assessment of the Great Director's film actually applies nicely to Fight the Rooster: "It's true the narrative isn't coherent. The scenes, individually brilliant, are too loose. Too disconnected." The book is more coherent than the movie, but it remains true that Cole's sometimes brilliant, always entertaining character sketches are much better than the sum of the parts.
I have a feeling readers who would most enjoy Fight the Rooster would be those with some insider's knowledge of Hollywood and movie making. Personally, as much as I enjoy Cole's writing, the book itself was just OK.
Thanks to Mr. Cole for the complimentary electronic review copy! (You did say you wanted an honest review. . . .)