I don’t normally listen to audiotapes of books, but I just tried an abridged version of Joe Eszterhas’s autobiography HOLLYWOOD ANIMAL. Like a dolt, I'd misread the book's description on Amazon when I ordered this and I didn't realize it was the cut version of the story. Big mistake.
As you can guess, I picked up this story for more Tinseltown research for my Vampire Underground novels. Eszterhas is best known for his screenplays: the most famous being BASIC INSTINCT, SHOWGIRLS, and JAGGED EDGE. He’s also known as the writer who was the first to be paid in the astounding range of $3 million for a script (BASIC INSTINCT). As far as screenwriters go, he’s a superstar with diva appetites, mainly for women and booze. I expected his story to be seedy and rife with gossip, but it met my expectations in only the slightest way. Yes, there were a couple of juicy anecdotes, but as I soon as I finished the tapes, I did some Internet research on this man and discovered that my abridged cassettes cut a lot out of his life. Good stuff, too. Dang it. It’s terrible to admit, but I really did want the sleaze and rumor-ridden slime that Joe Eszterhas was sure to impart. However, the writer surprised me with his flashbacks about growing up as the son of an immigrant from Hungry. These sections are sometimes shocking, sometimes poignant, and a good counterbalance to the present. Still, I felt as if my abridged version was cut to the point of whitewashing, even though I understand that the actual 700+ page novel itself is far more candid. I think I’ll read it…someday when I’ve gotten through all the other thousand books in my To Be Read piles.
No more abridged versions for me.