Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel by Quentin Tarantino


It was sometime around fifteen years later that the reputation of a deadly half white/half Mexican gunfighter named Johnny Madrid reached the ears of Californians. The reputation was that of a scoundrel, but a scoundrel with lightning-fast prowess with a pistola. From the accounts of eyewitnesses and dime-store pulp writers, he had the quickness in killing of Tom Horn, the accuracy of aim of Annie Oakley, the nasty disposition of John Wesley Hardin, and the lack of human empathy of William H. Bonney. He was one of the most feared killers who rode the Mexican side of the border, known by the peons in the pueblos he passed through as El Asesino de Rojo (translation: “The Murderer in Red”), due to the fancy red ruffled shirt he always wore.

Those who enjoy the films of Tarantino, his Westerns in particular, may find this “novel” of interest.

First, let’s get an expectation out of the way. If you enjoyed the titled film, you do get plenty more time with Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth but…if you open the pages expecting the book to follow the film, well, that is not Tarantino’s way.

The fiery finale is reduced to a mere single paragraph summary towards the beginning of the book.

So, if the book is not the movie what is it?

Well, it’s inside baseball on filmmaking, it’s film criticism, it’s a primer of on-set behavior, it’s, well it’s many things but what it is not is a carbon copy of the film and that is what makes it interesting [to this reader’s mind.]

I assure readers of the Western Genre, we get lots of insight into how Western film and television is made and the author’s views on his own favorite Western novelists-one will not surprise you, two or three may.

There are entire chapters that seem to be no more than extended plot summaries of Western episodic television.

If your tolerance for Mr. Tarantino’s digressive style is low, well, this might be a skip for you.

If you like his films [and I do] I found myself admiring the chutzpah of choosing not to tell the same ol’ story he already told.

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