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The Writer's Cut

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From Monty Python legend Eric Idle comes this wicked and enthralling comedy

Set during the glorious days of the Bush Empire before they finally invaded and killed irony, The Writer’s Cut follows Stanley Hay, a joke writer. He has a girlfriend, a writing partner and a career going nowhere in particular. Wisecracking, ambitious and horny, Stanley decides that he is going to change that by writing a novel. This is where things start to spiral out of control.

Caught up in the excitement Stanley falsely confesses that the novel will be a kiss-and-tell (a kiss and sell?) featuring Hollywood’s most famous and glamorous actresses. Before long expectations are going through the roof, Stanley is a celebrity in his own right and he’s living the LA highlife. There’s only one little problem…

Funny and pointed, The Writer’s Cut is a manic satirical ride through the booze and sex fuelled world of Tinseltown from our one of the world’s best loved comedians.

123 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 5, 2015

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About the author

Eric Idle

53 books265 followers
Eric Idle is an English comedian, actor, author and composer of comedic songs. He wrote and performed as a member of the internationally renowned British comedy group Monty Python.

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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews
Profile Image for Casey.
616 reviews40 followers
January 8, 2016
Look, I love a lot of Eric Idle's work, but this is a book of stupid, annoying people doing stupid and annoying things while being rewarded for them. It's not particularly clever to accuse Hollywood of being shallow and sex-obsessed, nor is it a shock that artists bluff/procrastinate. Calling this "post-ironic" doesn't cover for what is frankly a short, lazy, unlikeable book.
Profile Image for Glen Cadigan.
Author 14 books4 followers
January 7, 2016
We live in an age of instant celebrity, of unearned entitlement and adolescent priorities that have skewed the national conversation toward trivial items at the expense of those that actually matter. At least, this is the world in which Stanley Hay lives. Hay, a screen writer in Hollywood, makes a living rewriting other writers' work, usually by punching up their dialogue with gags. He's also known to pitch sitcoms to executives that know what they want, they just need someone to tell them what it is. He's a man fluent in bullshit, and bullshit is the language that everyone in Hollywood speaks.

While "...driving to the Valley for a meeting about meeting someone about setting a meeting..." Stanley has an idea to write a book and become a successful author. It will have lots of sex in it, of course, because sex is what sells and Stanley wants his book to sell. What's more, he will be the one having the sex in it. He describes it as, "A male-kiss-and-tell book, with a strong emphasis on innuendo, lubricious tales from the Hollywood hills, garnered from the boastful anecdotes of my friends, spruced up with highly exaggerated scenes from the years I spent bonking actresses." In other words, it will be "...a novel posing as a memoir disguised as a novel," and it will also list Stanley's imaginary conquests with the top actresses of the day. Imaginary, that is, because there is a pecking order in Hollywood and writers are not at the top. His own agent tells him they are a dime a dozen, and Stanley knows that he lives in a city where his ilk are considered to be less important than valets or caterers, as they are apparently more easily replaced.

That is the setting of The Writer's Cut, a new novel by Eric Idle, a writer himself who also happens to live in Hollywood. Idle, best known for his days with Monty Python's Flying Circus (and not so well known for being the neighbor of Price Is Right host, Drew Carey), draws upon his own experiences in La-La Land to give texture to what is subtitled, "A Post Ironic Novel." But what does that mean, exactly? According to Idle, anything goes in the Post Ironic age. It's a title that he has bestowed upon our present day, self-centered society, in which the things which shouldn't matter do, and the things which do matter, don't. The author comments, "With Reality TV we have gone way beyond irony. Same with politics. We've got a clown in the White House and nobody laughs."

In the Christian calendar, the Post Ironic age corresponds to the year 2003, which is when the events in the book take place. These are the days before the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, when people in Hollywood were more concerned with trade news that might affect them, as opposed to real news that affected everyone. If a newspaper wants them to read something, it doesn't put it on the front page, it puts it on the front page of the Calendar section where it knows they'll see it. Except for the part about people reading newspapers, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Cut is an example of a real world writer writing about a fictional one, or, as Idle's character puts it, "A novel about a Hollywood writer who is writing a novel about a Hollywood writer writing a novel about Hollywood." In case readers thought there were two Eric Idles out there, that sentence alone is sufficient evidence to confirm that their original suspicions regarding the pedigree of the author were correct.

But let us get back to Stanley, as the book is all about him. He wants to be famous, which is what everyone wants, and not just in Hollywood. He tells his agent about the book while he's on the way to a meeting, and before he can write a single word, it's bought by a publisher. Before he knows it, movie studios are interested in it. As its fame spreads, actresses want to be involved. He was right – sex sells, and with big names attached, a dirty tell-all book has people talking.

There's just one problem with his good luck: there is no book. He hasn't even started it yet, and the novel then becomes a misadventure about the book itself, which Stanley is consistent in not starting. He has his reasons, as all authors do, for procrastination, so he lies and says it's finished before it's even begun. The lies snowball from there, and the satire is plentiful. Idle presents a status-worshipping culture that only cares how the success of others translates into success for one's self, and Stanley is elevated socially as the perception of his success increases. His profile rockets to the top of the charts based upon nothing tangible, and we learn that it's not the product itself, but association with it, that becomes currency in Hollywood as there is no shortage of individuals that are eager to hitch their carts to his horse.

What is equally entertaining about the novel is that The Writer's Cut is as much a spoof about publishing as it is about Hollywood. The print run of the fictional novel gets doubled and doubled seemingly every time it is mentioned in the press, and everyone is eager to get on the perceived gravy train and benefit from the latest "hot" property that people are talking about. Talk shows and radio interviews become a part of Stanley's job description, and what is amusing here is that Idle goes into such detail about what happens behind the scenes during a promotional tour that readers know he has fictionalized his own experiences. But where the novel-within-a-novel differs from the actual publishing world is that Stanley only has a month to turn in his book, and that was a week ago. In real life, publishers don't like to cut it so close.

As far as the writing goes, it is vintage Idle, as evidenced by the above quotes. The pace is quick (in fact, so quick that this reviewer read the entire book in a single, long sitting), the commentary is clever, and his wit is in evidence on every page. When his character quotes Oscar Wilde without quoting him ("I can resist everything except temptation," Stanley tells the reader), at first this reviewer thought it was an Idle original until its familiarity kicked in. (What can I say? It was a long sitting.) When an author can toe that line, he's done his job.

Something that is interesting about The Writer's Cut – other than its contents – is that it is digital-only, so if you haven't seen it in a bookstore, that's why. It is published by the British publisher, Canelo, and according to a tweet from the author, "No publisher could turn it round that quickly," in reference to his choice of the digital-only path. So in addition to saving trees, it saves time, as it cuts a couple of years off the usual waiting period for a novel's release. (In traditional publishing, it is generally two years from the signing of a contract to publication since traditional publishing moves very, very slowly.) So just think, the world could be waiting until 2017 to read The Writer's Cut, and instead it got it in 2015. That's two less years Idle fans have to wait, and they should be thankful for it. It's refreshing to see a septuagenarian embrace the new technology instead of bemoan it, but then the Pythons were always a step ahead of everybody else.

Like a lot of comedians, Mr. Idle sometimes wonders if what he's written is funny. I can confirm to any potential purchasers that yes, it is funny, and yes, it is worth the cost of entry. If you like Eric Idle, then you'll like this book. And if you don't like Eric Idle, then what is wrong with you? Do you think you're clever, or something?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dawn.
116 reviews29 followers
April 30, 2016
Perfect for those nights when you can't sleep, and need something light, and fun to help you through the dark night. Admittedly, it's a manic trip with a self-absorbed writer as the main character, but it's fun, and I suspect the entertainment industry works far more like this than anyone would like to admit.
Profile Image for Nick.
53 reviews
April 9, 2016
Nothing like I thought it would be, esp since it was written by Eric Idle, one of my Idols!! Okay read however, a parable of the cult of instant celebrity. Who knows if his take on the personalities in Hollywood, NY and Cali are accurate. They are funny, however.
Profile Image for Meri.
441 reviews45 followers
May 19, 2020
Oh, Eric. I love you and will forever cherish you until the end of time. You're one of my comedy Beatles.

This is the first novel of Idle's I've experienced, and it's fun, silly, madcap, naughty, and a very quick read. Television writer Stanley Hay is the main character, and he's not too unlike the author. I honestly thought the beginning of the book was an introduction by Eric because it's filled with his usual name dropping and descriptions of ladies' body parts (go read his memoirs and tour diaries - he's a hilarious celebrity-befriended dirty old man). But no, it's Stanley, a dude who finds himself overpowered by the Tinseltown machine after promising to deliver a tell-all Hollywood expose, and getting so caught up in the hype, he doesn't seem to find the time to actually write it.

I wanted to try this to see what Eric's fiction is like, but now that I know, I'll most likely stick to the autobiographical stuff. The Writer's Cut is fun, but not something I'd ever go back to.
January 2, 2023
A short but enjoyable read. Fantastic writing style, fast paced and very funny. My only complaint is that I felt the ending came to a close too soon. Maybe I just wanted it to go on a bit longer. I struggle to imagine anyone else but the author as Stanley Hay, although maybe that's just me. Perfect book to start off the year.
Profile Image for Heath McKenny.
47 reviews23 followers
February 19, 2020
I wanted so much to enjoy this book, but unfortunately it wasn’t going to happen. This story of a screenwriter who sells a book he hasn’t written and then finds every possible way to suck even more money out of the Hollywood machine while avoiding at all turns writing even a word of the book was meant to highlight the vacuity and avarice of our fame-crazed society.
I assume.
In the end, despite the author’s/narrator’s constant reminders that it’s meant to be “post-ironic”, the story can only be described as a very rough first draft of a typical sex & cinema story involving not one redeeming character. Assuming it’s meant to be simply a quick piece of escapism, even that attempt fails. There is no escape. The sex is trite, the “tension” is forced while, strangely, interminable at the same time. The story just doesn’t advance to anything interesting.
My only reason for finishing this was not out of any concern for the characters, or even any interest in the story line. Rather, I trudged on through to the (merciful) end out of nothing more than a morbid desire to see how Idle would get himself out of this mess. Any semblance of satisfaction I felt from the ending was simply that - I had reached the ending.
Consider this a minor, genuinely inexplicable, aberration in the otherwise brilliant career of Mr. Idle.
Profile Image for Ralph Wark.
343 reviews14 followers
February 13, 2016
Not bad

I love Monty Python, grew up with their antics on the CBC, so an Eric Idle book was a no brainer. It has a nice premise, a writer with a tell all book who gets promoted, a movie deal, groupies, and general adulation, all before actually writing the book. That's the kicker, this poor sod is caught up in the Hollywood machine and goes along with it, all the time procrastinating the actual writing. Bit of a one trick pony but it has enough Pythonesque absurdity make it fun, just not great. So there you are, discuss among yourselves.......
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews

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