I’ve just finished Steve Erickson’s eighth novel the astonishing Zeroville, and quite simply, it’s the best new fiction novel I’ve read this year. Zeroville is a brilliant, scathing, surreal puzzle, a satirical off-kilter look at the Hollywood film industry through the eyes of cinema-savant, ex-seminarian Vikar Jerome. I predict that Erickson, a film critic for Los Angeles Magazine, has a cult hit on his hands.
When the book begins, it’s 1969, and Vikar drifts into Hollywood on the day of the Charles Manson Family murders at the home of actress Sharon Tate. Overnight, Hollywood becomes a nervous town, and Vikar’s appearance isn’t exactly reassuring. His shaved head is tattooed with an image of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift in a scene from A Place in the Sun...
Read the full review at www.mostlyfiction.com/humor/erickson.htm
An Interview with Steve Erickson:
What inspired you to write ZEROVILLE?
Well, the movies play a part in a number of my earlier novels — Days Between Stations, Rubicon Beach, Amnesiascope, The Sea Came in at Midnight — so they’ve always been an interest of mine. I actually got my degree at UCLA not in literature but film. A few years ago I was trying to recruit Michael Chabon into writing for the literary magazine I edit [Black Clock], and being the slippery guy he is, instead he recruited me into writing for a McSweeney’s anthology he was putting together, and over five days in Vegas I knocked out a short story called “Zeroville.” I realized that at the core of the story was a pretty good idea I could have done more with, and a central character I wasn’t really satisfied with. I wrote the story not long after finishing my previous novel, Our Ecstatic Days, which was a very intense, emotionally roiling work, and I felt that a novel about the movies should have the energy of the movies, it should move like the movies. It was when the character of Vikar — this childlike, excommunicated theology student who’s “cineautistic” — fell into place that the novel fell into place with him...
Read the full interview with Steve Erickson at MostlyFiction
Reviewed by Guy Savage NOV 1, 2007