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It's All True: A Novel of Hollywood


It's All True: A Novel of Hollywood

The reason behind the preponderance of two-star, formula movies
flooding out of Hollywood these days is all too apparent in IT'S
ALL TRUE, screenwriter and novelist David Freeman's directionless
tale of aptly named screenwriter Henry Wearie. In this novel of
short stories, the main character was a darling of Hollywood two
decades ago when his script for "Streets of New York" sold for a
brow-raising $250,000. The mythic size of the check for a virtual
unknown, and the fact that the movie was never made, haunt Wearie
and parallel his failed marriage and his listless approach to
power-broking and deal-making. Constant rewrites and fear of public
reprisal paralyze studios and screenwriters alike, whittling great
stories down to mediocre rehashes of cliché and redundancy.
IT'S ALL TRUE serves up a helping of today's big studio releases:
stale leftovers.

In his faded, fraying sport jacket, Wearie attends a dizzying
number of yawn-fest meetings, lunches and parties with producers,
agents, writers and actors who all seem to suffer from adult
Attention Deficit Disorder as they nibble on salads, host half
conversations, wonder who is so important at the next table and
answer cell phones. When he is not lamenting his broken marriage to
Madeleine Girard (confusingly spelled "Madeline" and "Madeleine" in
different scenes), or the estrangement from his father, Wearie
reflects on his hobby of building bookshelves and his other
recreational activity: sharing tired jokes with other screenwriters
at the Farmers Market literary roundtable.

While a protagonist who builds bookshelves is boring enough, the
novel also suffers from ADD as interesting characters are
painstakingly described and then dropped to jump to some other
rather mundane scene in Wearie's life. Drawing on the reader's
patience is the lazy, repetitive style of character description:
"…here he was, still at Warners, still tall and
geeky…"; "A waiter tall as Charles de Gaulle…";
"…another guy who was tall enough to play for the Lakers";
"He was a big, fleshy man, well over six feet tall…"; "Mack
was big, well over six feet tall…"; "He was a big
man…"; "He was tall, angular…"; and "He was a tall,
dignified black man…". But Freeman cannot be blamed for the
publisher's sloppy editing, only for the lack of novel-length

Henry Wearie is portrayed at the beginning of IT'S ALL TRUE as a
man with a fading career. Yet Wearie soon finds he is back in the
spotlight through his connection to former flame Maggie LeMay, now
a respected studio executive. Old connections are regained and
Wearie is again making money and taking time to reflect on his past
success with the Hollywood ADD crowd.

IT'S ALL TRUE is saved by three gems, apparently short stories that
were previously published before this meandering novel could be
built around them. "Take the Backlight," the tale of Wearie's
"date" with a transvestite, "Thank You for Everything," the pivotal
moment when Wearie and his wife realize they cannot adopt a child,
and "It's All True," which details the making of Wearie's one
successful cop movie, are all fine tales when taken out of the
context of the narrative.

Another story, "The Art Deco Widow," originally published in 1999
in a West Coast literary magazine, is thrust awkwardly at the
reader as a story Wearie once wrote. Unfortunately, it is rather
weak and creates an uncomfortable diversion from the novel just as
Wearie's own story begins to sound interesting.

IT'S ALL TRUE winds up being a veteran writer's desk cleaning
exercise where the most interesting character in the book, a
Haitian con named Dupree, only garners a scant five pages. Fiction
readers interested in satire or exposé concerning Hollywood
should look to the classics from Nathanael West (THE DAY OF THE
LOCUST) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (THE LAST TYCOON) for satisfyingly
"true" Tinsel Town lore.

Reviewed by Brandon M. Stickney on January 22, 2011

It's All True: A Novel of Hollywood
by David Freeman

  • Publication Date: March 2, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 0743249755
  • ISBN-13: 9780743249751