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Sad Movies

par Mark Lindquist

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With 'Sad Movies' I'm finally read up on the literary brat pack, a silly label from a silly article, but it helped me find literature of a similar groove after I fell in love with 'Less Than Zero' and 'Bright Lights, Big City' in my last year of school.

Our disaffected young man is named Zeke. He's disappointed in life because, after spending some time partying abroad after college, he came to LA and wasn't a star screenwriter. Instead he's a hack copywriter at a B-film company. He abandons his screenplay, neglects his girlfriend, and spends most of his time coked out of his mind and/or drunk. He doesn't like to talk to people and yet feels alienated by modern life. He's decided his only way out of his spiral is to end it all and name his girlfriend the beneficiary on his life insurance policy.

A couple of years ago I would have loved this. Reading 'Sad Movies' now I can only hold Zeke in disdain. Stop whining, you've got a cake job - its the 80s! The book itself has some merit for being so minimalist that it keeps Zeke's robotic movements at enough distance to allow the reader to fill in the blanks with their own emotions when necessary. Zeke's spiritual guru-figure friend who arrives in the nick of time was a necessary device, but similarly not all there. The humor and the short length of the book kept me going, so I can't say it will waste your time.

Maybe I'll try one of Lindquist's later novels, maybe his writing becomes a little more distinct. This is neither as satisfying or as innovative as the debuts of the other writers he was cataloged with. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Sad Movies, a post-college picaresque drenched in scotch and pop culture, has a reputation as a second-tier brat-pack novel. I think it's a pretty fair reputation. Zeke, the narrator, a writer of bad copy for bad movies, has resolved to kill himself. An old friend shows up out of the blue and takes him on a weekend-long series of adventures designed to help Zeke discover whether or not he has a reason to live.

Sad Movies is light on substance. Naively gloomy throughout, then naively hopeful at the end. The characters are not especially vivid-- for the most part they are types. This is not a vivid Los Angeles, either. About the only thing that's vivid, here, is the suffocating oppressiveness of 80s party culture. That's thick on the page.

What the book has to offer is mainly a brisk narrative that never gets bogged down in the excesses of some of his contemporaries. The heavy use of song lyrics and pop music references anticipates High Fidelity by nearly a decade. But unless you grew up on Siouxsie Sioux and Bauhaus, many of the references will seem dated or obscure, adding little.

If you haven't taken a special interest in the brat pack, there's little reason to read Sad Movies.

(Some of the core components of the story-- the alcohol fueled adventures and the shamanic figure who swoops in to organize the action-- are sort of pet peeves of mine. So it's possible I'm not giving Sad Movies a fair shake.) ( )
  goodmanbrown | Nov 9, 2008 |
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