READ WHAT EVERYONE’S CLUCKING ABOUT
Guiltless Reading : The Guiltless Reader, February 7, 2013
An Adam Sandler movie-in-the-making! (or so I hope)
The book in one sentence: From mediocrity to living out your dreams … in the most of unlikely of places.
Synopsis of Hollywood Buckaroo by Tracy DeBrincat: Hollywood Buckaroo tells the improbable and unintentional coming-of-age of Sander Sanderson, whose filmmaking aspirations are in the toilet after the death of his father, a successful plumber to the Hollywood stars. Dumped by his girlfriend, and unable to grieve for his dad or face running the family business, Sander wangles a shot to direct a hamburger commercial in the old west town of Buckaroo – thereby living his dream for one whole week before resigning himself to a life he dreads. As Sander struggles to rescue the imploding project, eccentric locals jumpstart his creativity and his heart, so he can mourn at last and begin to love.
My two cents: I was approached to review this book and found myself wondering about that red chicken on the blue cover. Neat-o … and just a little strange, right? Then I read through the synopsis and decided … what a surreal story. Then I had Tracy DeBrincat over to do a guest post, and she was the nicest ever! She reflects on why “you are not your hometown” which really got me thinking about me specifically (I’m a small town gal) and people in general (New Yorkers = all very chic and always in black?) Alright. I digress.
Hollywood Buckaroo is funny, irreverent and rather over the top. Everything is larger than life, even a little weird … kind of like being jetlagged and waking up in the middle of night with a raging headache and then deciding to watch TV at full volume and in fully saturated colour. Again I digress.
Let’s get back on track. The whole book is a nice digression from the ordinary. It’s an unpredictable story that just kept me going because I didn’t know what to expect, and even at some point I just dropped my expectations and just went with it.
This book reminded me of the many Adam Sandler flicks I’ve watched (think Click, Spanglish, 50 First Dates), that while funny, even laugh out loud, gross funny, you know that while you’re laughing that there’s definitely a moral to it. Something that will make you think about life, your place in it, and what would make you happy. Really. That’s what makes this book extra special. And that’s why I think this would make great movie material. In the meantime, go get to know Sander Sanderson, the insane place of Buckaroo, and it’s very special inhabitants.
Verdict: A wild ruckus of a book that has a surprisingly tender side to it. Highly recommended as a diversion, then to re-read to ruminate.
L.A. Budget Examiner : Kathryn Lamb, January 11, 2013
After his father dies, wannabe filmmaker, Sander Sanderson, must choose between a bunch of crap: running the family plumbing business or risking it all for a precarious movie career. When the opportunity to direct a burger commercial in the wild west town of Buckaroo miraculously falls in his lap, Sander seems to have it made, until love, desert locals, crazy talent, Hells Angels and Mother Nature intervene. This winner of the Big Moose Prize from Black Lawrence Press will have you firing through the pages faster than a gunslinger.
Litstack : Sharon Browning, December 5, 2012
Thank heavens Tracy DeBrincat understands the glitter and glitz of Hollywood; the egotism, the diva moves and the dreams of avarice that go with the Beverly Hills landscape. If she didn’t have such a feel for the movie industry and all its stereotyped follies and foibles, she wouldn’t have been able to write such a delightfully refreshing novel as Hollywood Buckaroo, where the offbeat players have a human side and the happily ever after is about as far away from a fairy tale fadeout as you can get.
Sander Sanderson is not your typical “not your typical Hollywood anti-hero”. He’s more like the loser roommate you’re glad you left behind. But honestly, not every aspect of his being a loser is his own fault. Really. For example, at the start of the story, he misses his dad’s funeral, not because he’s drunk or hung over, or because he’s suffering some kind of deeply evidenced personal angst, but because his car won’t start. And he can’t find his jumper cables. Now, that he let his car get to that point and that he lost his jumper cables in the mess of his life, and that he doesn’t have the cash for a cab is part of him being a loser, but he really didn’t anticipate car trouble on the morning of his father’s funeral…or he was hoping he wouldn’t have car trouble on the morning of his father’s funeral?
Sander’s father, Bobby Sanderson, had been the Plumber to the Stars. Fast, courteous, and above all, discreet, Bobby Sanderson and his El-San Plumbing Company was a mainstay of the Hollywood jet set, at least when the toilets back up on the day of the socialite function of the year. Sander was being groomed to follow in this father’s footsteps and he had plenty of experience working by his father’s side, but Sander didn’t want to be a plumber. He didn’t want his father’s life. He wanted to be…. wait for it… a screenwriter.
But, as we all know, almost everyone in LA wants to be a screenwriter, and even college awards and accolades do not get your foot in the door when there are so many people vying for attention. It helps, too, if you’ve actually got a screenplay to shill. Sander doesn’t have a screenplay. He doesn’t have a girlfriend, either. That was a much more recent development than his lack of a screenplay, and he’s still reeling from it, especially since his girlfriend left him for someone not nearly as good looking or funny, but still, someone who is currently upwardly mobile. Someone who Sander wants to be. But for now Sander is back helping his dad with the family business. In fact, with Sander back, his dad was able to take it easy, stay in the office more, relax a bit while Sander takes the service calls. After all, the business is supposed to be the kid’s once the old man is gone, right?
But then comes the infamous Pink Glove incident, the incensed customer, the damage control that finds Bobby Sanderson back in the trenches – literally – since Sander’s tact seems to be as non-existent as his writing career. And it is this need to be back in the field keeping an eye on his son that may or may not have contributed to Bobby’s fatal heart attack knee deep in a septic tank. Sander’s mother certainly thinks so. And his sister. So while Sander doesn’t have a screenplay or a girlfriend, he does have a lot of guilt. That’s not why he missed his father’s funeral, however. It’s because his car wouldn’t start. Really.
Like every good Hollywood story, however, this is just the jumping off point. Of course, Sander makes an unexpected contact at the family soiree following the funeral, and of course that leads to an exciting possibility that of course goes in unexpected and slightly bizarre directions. In this case, it means a directing gig (just a hamburger commercial, but still – a directing gig!) set to shoot at an iconic Hollywood location: the old west town of Buckaroo, California. Part frontier neighborhood, part show business vehicle and part historic homage to the cowboy movies of old, Buckaroo is full of residents who are hyper-stereotyped. Yet Ms. DeBrincat fills these eccentrics with a freshness and a humanity that makes them come alive. Sure, sometimes she ventures into the ludicrous, but this is Hollywood, baby!
And more often than not, she hits the mark. Her handling of Sander’s growing awareness of his parents as having lives as provocative and complex as his own and of his journey of self-realization is spot on and beautifully nuanced. So many times I assumed I knew what was going to happen or how Sander was going to react simply because the story was unfolding in a tried and true fashion, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
Some places have something about them that remind you how measly you are in the scheme of things, not in a way that makes you feel helpless, but in the way that makes you feel like you’re part of the plan and connected to everything else, no matter how inconsequential you might feel. My eyes tear up at the thought of Dad having that feeling. Somehow, I conspired to see him as my own personal pain the ass, instead of another piece of the cosmic pie, same as me, with doubts and fears and grandiose dreams. Something loosens around the center of my chest.
Yes, sometimes Ms. DeBrincat misses the mark. A detailed and prolonged description of intestinal distress, the idea that a fast food chain would embrace images of cat scratch sex to sell hamburgers, and a video unveiled at the White House with full on nudity are ridiculous and frankly, unnecessary. And yes, there are too many story lines that have to resolve far too frenetically, giving the end of the book the feel of a B-movie that has run over budget and is desperate to wrap things up. But there are so many wonderful scenes and fun characters in this book, that these points are mere distractions and not actual hindrances.
If you hearken for Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, if you like John Wayne movies, if your cowboy boots are actually scuffed, OR if you are interested in what really goes on during a film shoot… or even if you think chickens are fascinating creatures, pick up a copy of Hollywood Buckaroo. You’ll have a fun time at the Okay Corral (no, I really mean the “Okay” Corral – that’s in Buckaroo), guaranteed.
Guiltless Reading : December 9, 2012
I always trying to include something a little different in the blogposts than what appears in the press release. Doesn’t mean it will always be more interesting…
The Opinionated Me: Reviews & More : November 14, 2012
Try not to be annoyed by the “supper” typo in the introduction…
BACK COVER BLURBS
“Hollywood Buckaroo’s witty and engaging love-hate relationship with the industry it so vividly portrays is as entertaining as a trip to the movies itself.”
“Hollywood Buckaroo will have a joyous ring of truth to anyone who has toiled (or tried to) in the crazy, silly and ultimately bizarre world of show business that is brought to life so wonderfully within these pages.”
“Tracy DeBrincat—whose name alone should seduce—is snappy, winning, lightly perverse.”
“Hollywood Buckaroo is so funny and so entertaining. There is much to like about this, particularly the humor, but even more than that, there are passages where the writing is so amazing, I realized I was holding my breath as I was reading it. Sander’s incredible experiences in Buckaroo may be strange, but they are never boring.”