Book Review: Fame Whore by Mike Hudson

Fame Whore by Mike Hudson

 

Fame Whore

by Mike Hudson

Power City Press (2014) Paperback, 212 pages

“You can get the monkey off your back, Tom thought, but the circus was always in town”

In an age of tweets and Facebook status posts where the daily human experience is reduced to short bursts of Me Me Me, reading a book like Fame Whore by Mike Hudson (singer of 70s Cleveland punk band The Pagans), really puts our American social media society in perfect perspective for me. Set in glitzy Los Angeles for the most part, the main characters of Tom Heaton and Angie are loosely based on Hudson’s life.

Tom is a drunken hack writer/newspaper reporter, and ex-punk rock singer, Angie is a Hollywood glamour girl who is on the ass end of her career. From the start, the two protagonists are exhibit A in this literary trial of the self-centered, fame-seeking culture of Hollywood and beyond. Hudson expertly writes as one who has studied this culture first hand. Depictions of the young and beautiful, the well-heeled, the delusional, and the mentally ill “next big things” are spot on, and offer a highly entertaining, yet thought-provoking view of the “Twitter generation.”

Tom has left his wife and partner  of 15 years, Rachel, back in their NYC apartment, and has moved to LA to be with the woman who sparked a long-lost flame in his gut (and his ego). His wife Rachel is just one more of a string of destroyed people Tom has left in his wake, while he desperately seeks the acclaim that he believes he deserves. That is the key point of the story- the delusions, the skirting of reality, and the total disregard for those who they see as props in the movie that is their life. This is the view from the catbird seat-the view from the litter box is quite different.

The character of Harris, a thirty-something Jack-in-the-Box manager, views life through a different lens altogether. An Army vet of the recent Iraq-Afghanistan wars who suffers from PTSD, Harris quits his job to work as a barista for Starbucks, all in order to be closer to Angie, the girl he saw at Starbucks and has become obsessed with. To him, the Starbucks lifestyle is where cool and successful people congregate, a place where he can change his life for the better, and become a part of the beautiful people club. Harris is the epitome of the low-brow, reality TV viewer; he is enchanted by these lowest common denominator programs,  which ironically casts him as one of millions who have helped to propel many undeserving, untalented trolls into the 15 minutes of fame club. Ultimately, Harris would get his coveted 15 minutes of fame, although he would not get to fully enjoy it..

In the end, Tom and Angie, the poster children for self-obsessed fame seekers, will live relatively happy ever after, pretty much oblivious of those who were adversely affected by their cold and calculating machinations. Mike Hudson’s writing style is direct and pulls no punches whatsoever, he delivers a sobering social commentary, while telling a highly entertaining story of greed, violence, jealousy and delusion. You want to hate these creepy characters, but you ultimately wind up rooting for them. Hudson is on the same level as Bukowski, John Fante, and even Henry Miller to some degree. With some writers, you can tell that most of what they write about is the result of a lot of research, while some  writers, such as Hemingway, and the aforementioned Bukowski and Miller, write based on their experiences,  and I get the feeling that Hudson is intimately acquainted with these characters while reading Fame Whore.

The similarities with Bukowski are mostly in style and delivery; where Bukowski wrote about living in flop-houses, dead-end day labor jobs, drinking cheap wine and bar hags, Hudson comes from the opposite direction. The expensive accouterments, fine wines, constant networking, and the reliance on social media for feelings of self-worth are what Mike Hudson details in Fame Whore. What is extremely interesting to me is the fact that while they wrote from opposing perspectives, the results were the same. Whether you are dressed in rags, and lived in a hovel, or dressed in $2000 suits and are living in a lavish condo, you were still a needy degenerate, who was capable of truly disgusting behavior.

If there is one line in the book that clearly put the gist of this story in a nut shell for me, it is when Harris, the ex-vet who is stalking Angie, was having a conversation with his equally oblivious friend Tony at the bar:

“They sat together for the rest of the night, Tony talking about all the chicks who would come to see his band at the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market and Harris speaking in solemn tones about his future career at Starbucks. Each of them might just as well have been sitting alone in a room, talking to themselves”

This is Mike Hudson’s 6th book, and his first novel. I recommend Fame Whore to anyone who likes dark comedy, Charles Bukowski, John Fante, Punk Rock, social commentary and Hollywood tabloids. I love this book for its grit, insight and darkly humorous take on the tragedy of social media culture. His depiction of famous and semi-famous stars is downright hilarious,  while his use of low-brow reality shows like Cheaters in the story was genius. It really strips the gloss off of the Hollywood/L.A. legend of fame & Fortune, revealing a sad and obsessive quest for a lifestyle that only a select few will ever experience, while the rest die face-down in their dreams. Good times.

 (5 out of 5)

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2 Comments

August 11, 2014 · 5:31 pm

2 responses to “Book Review: Fame Whore by Mike Hudson

  1. Mike Hudson

    Wow… Thanks bro!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Thugbrarian Review Top Ten Books of 2014 | The Thugbrarian Review

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