During the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, writer Matthew Specktor sat down with L.A. Times staff writer Carolyn Kellogg to discuss his new novel, "American Dream Machine." It's a book set in and around a fictional Hollywood talent agency, not unlike Creative Artists Agency, where Specktor's father works.
He rattles off some of his favorite books about Hollywood. "I'm very fond of Michael Tolkin's 'The Player.' I'm very fond of 'Play It as It Lays.' I'm very fond of Budd Schulberg," he said. He also mentions some that are less well-known. But he deliberately set those aside while working on his own novel, in an effort to have his own take on the city and its mythologies.
In Specktor's novel, he creates an entertainment industry of the 1960s and '70s that was more middle-class, less extreme than it is now. In the story, successful actors and directors lived in relatively modest homes on real estate that's now stratospherically expensive. Somewhere along the way, the business changed -- due in part to the star-making machinations of the story's Hollywood agents.
In the video, Specktor explains where in Los Angeles he likes to write -- he was productive there, he explains, because he couldn't get a wireless signal. For more conversation with Specktor, click on the video above.
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