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Zeroville

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  2,343 ratings  ·  392 reviews
Zeroville begins in 1969 on Hollywood Boulevard, when a Greyhound bus drops off a film-obsessed ex-seminarian with images of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift tattooed on his head. Vikar Jerome steps into the vortex of a cultural transformation: rock ’n’ roll, sex, drugs, and — far more important to him — the decline of the movie studios and the rise of the independent ...more
Paperback, 329 pages
Published November 2007 by Europa Editions
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Val Killpack a couple thoughts: laird hunt's the exquisite, craig clevenger's dermaphoria, will christopher baer's phineas poe trilogy: kiss me judas, penny…morea couple thoughts: laird hunt's the exquisite, craig clevenger's dermaphoria, will christopher baer's phineas poe trilogy: kiss me judas, penny dreadful, hell's half acre, david mitchell's the bone clocks, samantha hunt's mr splitfoot, angela carter's nights at the circus and the magic toyshop, jeanette winterson's lighthousekeeping, and margaret atwood's trilogy: oryx and crake, the year of the flood, maddaddam.(less)

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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  2,343 ratings  ·  392 reviews


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Kristen
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, fiction, bizarre
I believe it's a very good book.
Oriana
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Oriana by: Patrick Fishbait, indirectly
On the whole, this was a phenomenal book. It's all about movies, but also about punk music, hippies, madness, murder, blowjobs, surfing, Joan of Arc, god, forgiveness, wonder, and maybe even love.

It lost one star for the ending, which I wouldn't usually do—by "ending" here, I mean literally the last three pages—but the more I've thought about it, the more upset those three pages have made me. It really does color the entire reading experience to have an ending that leaves you feeling unsettled
...more
Vit Babenco
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The protagonist, Vikar Jerome is a huge fan of Montgomery Clift…
“Everybody say, ‘Is he all right?’ And everybody say, ‘What's he like?’ Everybody say, ‘He sure look funny.’ That's… Montgomery Clift, honey!” The ClashThe Right Profile.
Zeroville is a postmodern post-noir mystery of cosmic corruption in all its dire manifestations.
A clueless cineaste, having some nonstandard religious beliefs: “God hates children. God is always killing children in the Bible or threatening to. He kills His own child,” arrives/>
...more
karen
Dec 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
i want to say this is great, but it just didnt move me enough to be great. and i love steve erickson, but its a much less...complicated plot than any ive read of his, which might be why i didnt engage in it fully. also ive never been a fan of the "inactive damaged forrest gumpy life swirls around it". hero. (yet i love hamlet...) i dont know - the sea came in at midnight is one of those books. i had an intense physical reaction to it. as it started coming together, there was a moment my heart st ...more
Mariel
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: I want to donate my brain to the monstrous panasonic prophet
Recommended to Mariel by: one death is a tragedy, a million is statistics
It just seems... radical, any movie that, like demands your privacy, because it's, you know... a movie like that makes common sense completely beside the point, and you're one on one with it, in the living room by yourself rather than the theatre with all those people, and watching it is like being naked and you can't be naked like that with strangers, you can't even stand the idea of it, and you know that after you're finished with it, much more with a movie like that than any stupid horror fli ...more
Edward
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Zeroville is a novel about art and the artist. Whether it be film, music or literature, it is an argument in support of true art over its simulacrum in mass media. It is a strange and surreal experience: there is the eternal battle of heaven and hell, parents killing their children (and vice versa), Abraham, Joan of Arc, strange encounters, mystical dreams and cryptic messages – what does it all mean? The novel treads a fine line between ambiguity and vagueness, sometimes straying more than a little too ...more
Christine Palau
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Steve fuckin' Erickson.

"Steve Erickson has that rare and luminous gift for reporting back from the nocturnal side of reality." Thomas Pynchon

Incidentally, Erickson and Pynchon share a literary agent, Melanie Jackson, who happens to be Pynchon's wife. To me, this is interesting, especially since I'm starting Gravity’s Rainbow as soon as I finish this review.

I've met Steve Erickson on three separate occasions, and each time I think he hated me more:

1) Back in F
...more
Melanie
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-i-own
This is weird. Most of the people who wrote reviews for this book loved it. I found it ok. I was interested enough to finish it 🙂
Danger
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
An engaging, sometimes shocking, sometimes lyrical, mostly metaphorical journey, we follow Vikar, an emotionally-damaged, quasi-autistic man for a decade and a half in Los Angeles, from the summer of the Manson murders, until sometime in the early 80s. While almost Lynchian in its mysteries and revelations, this book still firmly sets its roots in reality (weaving the mythology of early-and-middle Hollywood) while allowing it’s symbolic wings unfurl and take flight. An interesting read, that oft ...more
Nate H.
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves movies.
Shelves: 2015
This novel took me by surprise in a way, I listened to the author talking about it in an interview on a radio show called Bookworm hosted by Michael Silverblatt and cool it sounded interesting, but I didn't think the quality of the writing itself, the care the author put in every page and the vivid characters and out-of-this world atmosphere would be so well-developed and in my view fully accomplished. Mr. Erickson has won a new admirer.
Eugene
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
his plots have a comic-book-ness to them--if those comic books are the darkest and wildest of early era vertigo's or have the zaniness of first comics' AMERICAN FLAGG and BADGER. ...plots filled with the boyish wish fulfillment of sex and romantic alienation and isolating intelligence, all suffused with a self consciousness and self-regard about said wish fulfillment. ZEROVILLE's (seemingly) effortless epic goes on and on, doesn't let up for a moment, up to and including its spine-shivering fini ...more
Jonfaith
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The trek of a reading adult is often a lonely and opaque one, only in the sense, that the course is personal and peers can only shrug and smile, but the path continues. I can say that if I could ever pen a piece of literary achievement, it would be Zeroville.
Justin
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Zeroville is what happens when a brilliant film critic writes a brilliant novel. Steve Erickson is the film critic for Los Angeles Magazine, and though I've never read any of his movie reviews I can't imagine he's anything less than brilliant based on the quality of the prose in this novel, and the comprehensive awareness on display of film history and culture.

I have been experiencing a strange and thrilling serendipitous relationship with books recently, during which I have ceased choosing them myself, but have
...more
John
Mar 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of the best in contemporary fiction
Recommended to John by: I've been reading Erickson for years
ZEROVILLE strikes me as one of those masterworks in which a talent at its zenith catches hold of a theme that's its equal-- a subject that, in turn, snags the talent and puts it to a one-of-a-kind test. The Antaean struggle which results is a thing of beauty to watch. Erickson has produced a number of strange yet stellar booklength fictions, to be sure, and my favorite before this latest was TOURS OF THE BLACK CLOCK, by any fair standard a major revisioning of recent history. But with ZEROVILLE he rev ...more
Roberto
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whoop yeah that was so good...a scruffy rollicking ode to cinema and L.A. Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, the Manson murders, blowies, Joan of Arc...we follow Vikar (like a punk Forrest Gump) (i know, sounds dreadful) through the late Sixties to the Eighties, this covers a lot of ground and it keeps drawing parallels between life and film and dream, ideas like continuity and the shape of time keep coming up, but it also just captures the feeling of decline, revolt, change in those eras reall ...more
Patrick Brown
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting book. For long stretches, this book felt more or less like the cinematic version of "Losing My Edge:"

"But I was there
I was there when Charles Burnett made Killer of Sheep
I told him 'Don't do it that way. You'll never make a dime.'
I was there in post-production on Star Wars: A New Hope.
I was working on the blaster sounds, with much patience.
I woke up naked on the beach at Cannes in 1988.
I heard you have a print of every good movie ever m
...more
David Yoon
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
It’s a surreal novel as we follow Vikar who sports a the tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on his shaven head. The book is a bonanza for old moviephiles, it’s so entrenched in the Hollywood of the early 70’s. I barely managed to eke out the references to Taxi Driver and Blade Runner.

But all these references are signifiers. That individual scenes play to a larger theme. And the book still managed to pull me through this fever dream of a story that somehow evokes the idea of film be
...more
Michael
131012: i once worked in a video rental store, and used to take home three or so movies a night. i once took a film studies class at u. so i recognize far too many movies and characters and world of movie nerds, but is this enough to enjoy a book? yes and no…

i read this in two big gulps, so obviously it is an easy read. it is written like a movie, it uses cuts, it counts up and down. it has some good lines: ‘fuck continuity’. maybe i will come back to review it in a few days, when i
...more
Brian
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brian by: Adam Tschorn
Thank you Adam Tschorn for highly recommending this book to me. Fascinating examination of cinema and dreams unlike anything I have read. Zeroville is also a love letter to Los Angeles and I enjoyed moving through the city with Vikar as I was able to vividly imagine his journeys. Thanks again Adam, I really enjoyed it.
Dillwynia Peter
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
To maximise getting the most out of this novel, one needs to be a huge fan of Hollywood films. Hundreds of references are made to pivotal films of the Golden Years, while the narrative is set during the New Hollywood or New Wave period of the 1960s to 1980s. A cursory interest or knowledge of cinema makes this book OK but not great; way too much is missed by the reader. The New Wave was an important part of Hollywood film history: it was a period of when directors, rather than film companies con ...more
Agnese
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I hesitate to recommend this book to everybody, but as a film buff, I absolutely loved it!
Set in the 70s, in Los Angeles, the novel follows Vikar, a young and inexperienced man with violent tendencies, who’s obsessed with movies and has a tattoo of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor from A Place in the Sun on his shaved head.
He comes to Hollywood in 1969 to be surrounded by people who are as passionate about movies as he is, but pretty soon he becomes frustrated when he realizes that most p
...more
Eric Althoff
Jan 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: film geeks/LA familiars/philosophers of all stripes
Recommended to Eric by: Christina Sheldon
Hmm, what to make of "Zeroville," a novel that seems trapped between the lead characters's (and, by extension, the author's) infectious obsession with film, film history, and the Zeitgest versus the metaphysical turn that the story takes in its final throes? I consider myself to be at least a high amateur-grade film connoisseur, having seen or being cognizant of at least 85-90% of the films or personalities referenced in this text (frequently in code, making it a true game for the reader), but t ...more
Jason Pettus
Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

This is one of two books I've recently read that I didn't care for enough to finish, but weren't exactly terrible so didn't want to include them in my snarky "Too Awful to Finish" series of essays. And indeed, the premise behind Steve Erickson's Zeroville is a compelling one, which made me want to
...more
Carmen
May 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
A slightly violent proto-punk version of Forrest Gump comes to Hollywood, ends up an editor, influences film in a profound way in a single film.

The author screams "SEE ALL THE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT MOVIES" and sometimes music and vintage places too by describing but not often naming the things he's describing. It's shy of referencing these things in a meaningful way (with a couple of exceptions) and more of do you know what I'm summarizing now? How about now? What about this one?

And I wanted to
...more
Eric
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
"His reality was a dream; her dream was a reality." -Sabi Szylagi

What begins as an absurdist Hollywood farce--John Milius bellowing on the set of Love Story, run-ins with De Palma and De Niro in Malibu--transforms, by the end, into a Jungian nightmare: Dreams, films, and the Bible reveal themselves as a continuum of the collective unconscious. Film is our opening into a primordial world and the place in which our primordial fears and hopes--the three-headed monster of God, death, and the g
...more
Robert Davis
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant and surreal masterpiece. I was completely enthralled by the characters.

Several years ago, while I was in San Francisco, I went into City Lights Bookstore to kill some time. Not looking for anything in particular, I browsed the shelves looking for something interesting and unusual. City Lights is certainly the right store for that. It was purely by chance that I randomly pulled Zeroville from the shelf. Unlike the bold cover, the nondescript spine of the book did not stand out and
...more
Edan
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Strange, original, beguiling, addictive, problematic. I really liked this a whole lot more than I expected I would. I don't really care for movies--I am one of the Angelenos Erickson describes in the novel who doesn't know a thing about cinema--and yet, and yet, this book worked its magic on me. I want to re-read it, to see how its structure works, and to understand how the echoes and motifs work, to make sense of Vikar's quest and notions of fathers and God. I liked how the book felt spliced to ...more
Nadia Zeemeeuw
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can’t help it but I believe it is a good book :)
I would love it even if it had only two scenes - with a burglar and with a Cannes press conference.
Kobe Bryant
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I dont know why he described the plots of very famous movies without naming them while also naming the other movies, perhaps to trick you into think youre so smart for having seen Le Samourai
Amin Delshad
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
A quite fascinating and interesting book with circular(?) structure; with a flowing and easy to follow storyline (unlike most of the books with such an approach to time).
I like movies, but I don't eat them, Vikar does. I've seen only a handful of films discussed in the book, I haven't seen any of the pictures hailed in it though, now they're in my watching list.

The main character is really one of kind.
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Steve Erickson is the author of ten novels: Days Between Stations, Rubicon Beach, Tours of the Black Clock, Arc d'X, Amnesiascope, The Sea Came in at Midnight, Our Ecstatic Days, Zeroville, These Dreams of You and Shadowbahn. He also has written two books about American politics and popular culture, Leap Year and American Nomad. Numerous editions have been published in English, Spanish, French, Ge ...more
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“Isn't it weird when that happens?' says Zazi. 'It's like the first time I heard the second Pete Ubu album and thought it just blew completely, I thought anyone who liked it must be stupid and full of shit--and then for about a year it was practically the only album I listened to. It was the only album that made any sense at all. So why does that happen? The music hasn't changed. The movie hasn't changed. It's still the same exact movie, but it's like it sets something in motion, some understanding you didn't know you could understand, it's like a virus that had to get inside you and take hold and maybe you shrug it off--but when you don't it kills you in a way, not necessarily in a bad way because maybe it kills something that's been holding you back because when you hear a really great record or see a really great movie, you feel alive in a way you didn't before, everything looks different, like what they say when you're in love or something--though I wouldn't know--but everything is new and it gets into your dreams.” 8 likes
“Someone dies when the movies get into your dreams.” 3 likes
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