Cover image for The Hollywood dodo
The Hollywood dodo
Nicholson, Geoff, 1953-
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Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2004]

Physical Description:
323 pages ; 23 cm
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From the critically acclaimed author of The Food Chain and Footsucker comes a sophisticated comedy about three people caught in the Hollywood machine.Following the death of his wife, Henry Cadwallader, an English doctor, insists on accompanying his aspiring actress daughter, Dorothy, on a trip to Hollywood. He fears she will fall prey to corruption and sleaze, but finds that it is actually he who is being corrupted at every turn.On the flight to LA, they meet 'auteur of the future' Rick McCartney. Rick's trying to get the backing to make a costume drama set in seventeenth-century England about a man who owns what he fears is the last dodo on earth. Dorothy Cadwallader's quest for fame begins badly and goes downhill from there. Meanwhile Henry becomes involved with a former actress turned estate agent. The lives of Henry and Dorothy once again intersect with that of Rick McCartney to dramatic effect as the characters find themselves drawn to the brink, where dreams die and extinction threatens.Sharp humor and keen observation drive Geoff Nicholson's satisfyingly oblique look at America's obsession with stardom.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

What do a failed medical student, a successful physician, and an aspiring screenwriter have in common? Would you believe a dodo? Throw in a one-legged past-life therapist, an Elizabethan herbalist turned taxidermist, and the reigning king of low-budget porn movies, and you've still only met a few of master satirist Nicholson's trademark cast of quirky characters. The plot is no less eccentric. Accompanying his wannabe-actress daughter from London to Tinseltown, Dr. Henry Cadwallader encounters wannabe-screenwriter Rick McCartney, who has been in London doing research for a potential movie. McCartney stumbles upon the story of one William Draper, a seventeeth-century wannabe-physician with a strange obsession. The fact that all three men are connected by an extinct bird isn't quite as bizarre as it sounds; this is, after all, Hollywood we're talking about. With carefully understated yet scathingly observant humor, Nicholson seamlessly weaves three distinctly disparate stories into one kaleidoscopic spoof of the entertainment industry, the medical establishment, and wacky Hollywood lifestyles, for a wickedly riotous read. --Carol Haggas Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

An extinct 17th-century flightless bird is at the heart of Nicholson's strained 15th novel, which follows three very different men from different times in their pursuit of the elusive dodo. Nicholson's alternating narrative is split three ways. In the present day, on a transcontinental flight to Los Angeles, Dr. Henry Cadwallader and his budding actress daughter, Dorothy, encounter (and revive) panic-stricken auteur Rick McCartney, who is hoping to get Hollywood to back his production of a movie about the dodo. At the center of Rick's screenplay is William Draper, a 17th-century Oxford University student obsessed with the acquisition and procreation of the bird. As Draper's life story unfolds, so does Henry's L.A. house-hunting and his lust for a sociable real estate agent, Barbara Scott. When Dorothy's acting prospects dwindle, Henry catches the talent agent's eye and decides to try his hand at acting, even though he's much embittered by Hollywood and its formulaic movie treatments. All of this nonsensical wackiness peaks at a mock-Tudor house that Rick has borrowed to produce both a porn movie and his long-awaited dodo film that he's persuaded Henry to star in. Nicholson's transparent characterizations unfortunately aren't strong enough to translate all the rampant silliness into hearty belly laughs, even with the poolside guest appearance of a mechanical dodo. Based on a clever concept that never quite gels, this doesn't reach the giddy heights of previous Nicholson black comedies like Bleeding London and Bedlam Burning. Agent, A.P. Watt. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One: Hurry Sundown The movement is westward, racing along the swarming freeway, chasing the sun, accelerating towards the sea, in your painted wagon, in your rental car, further, west of here, west of your life, toward some old dream, some new darkness, away from the old world. It's a race we always lose. We move too slowly. We can't outrun the gathering dusk. The sky turns carotene orange. The palm trees turn into cartoon silhouettes. You settle for the next best thing. You find somewhere to park, you briefly stand in line, buy your ticket, step inside. You're glad you made it, but it's not quite as you imagined. You were deceived. You believed the word of mouth. The scenes you saw in the trailer had other, lesser meanings when seen in context. There was less than you expected, less of everything, fewer explosions and car chases and sex scenes. The exposition was clumsy. The dialogue was flat, the performances wooden. You got restless and thought of walking out before the end. The light at the end of the tunnel is the light from the projector. Someone a few rows back seems to call your name, so you turn your head. You're staring into the source, but what do you see? Motes, beams, shapeless light. The images are now behind you, being thrown over your shoulder. The light's nothing till it hits the screen. And perhaps it's nothing much even then: ghosts, shades, chemical traces, digital enhancements, special effects that aren't so special. You move through the museum, steady as a Steadicam, through the waxworks and the hall of fame. You preserve memories that may or may not be your own, memories of big names and has-beens, shooting and falling stars, the holy and the wholly corrupt. It all decays: the body, the film stock, the remembrances. In the theater and the VIP room and the pet cemetery, the operations of nature continue: a constant fading, a simplification, the crumbling of structure. In the cinema of your imagination you run the only movies you own. You are the lone viewer here, the only customer and one who's not easy to please. You watch the pterodactyls and the winged dragons, the mutant slime, the things from the lab, the girls in the fur bikinis. You watch the cartoons and the newsreels, the shorts and documentaries and stag films. It all passes before your eyes like a life, yours, and it all looks so old hat, so last season. Was this really the blockbuster you awaited so eagerly? Was this the hot ticket you'd have killed for? The house lights are always dimmed, the aperture is always contracted. There's always a twist in the final reel. You settle down, kick back. You close your eyes and wait for the next movie to start. Copyright (c) 2004 by Geoff Nicholson Excerpted from The Hollywood Dodo by Geoff Nicholson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.