Picks and Pans Review: Children of Light

updated 04/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/14/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Robert Stone

Bad enough that Stone, author of Dog Soldiers and A Flag for Sunrise, has succumbed to what must be a terrible temptation for a writer who has had two of his books made into movies: to write a novel about how decadent Hollywood is. He has also written a novel that is as tedious and annoying as its characters. Gordon Walker is a broken-down actor-screenwriter addicted to cocaine, alcohol and self-pity. "Walker thought of himself as a survivor," Stone writes, with no sign of ironic intent. Lu Anne Bourgeois is a semi-successful actress addicted to cocaine, alcohol and self-pity. She is also a schizophrenic who calls her hallucinations the "Long Friends." (Stone uses them as extras in the novel but never really develops their importance.) Almost everyone else is making a career of being cynical. But then none of the characters is very believable, especially a hotshot journalist—the world's most naive, extravagantly stupid hotshot journalist, it would appear—who shows up to do a story on a film Bourgeois is shooting at a Mexican location. Walker also shows up to rekindle an old romance with the actress. This is not the Hollywood of Jackie Collins or Harold Robbins—with them you know what they're after: titillation. What Stone had in mind is a mystery, since his characters' barren lives are unrelieved by love or talent. While Norman Mailer's 1955 Hollywood novel, The Deer Park, was florid and eccentric, it was filled with passion—and passionate writing. This book is 258 pages of hopeless bitterness. (Knopf, $17.95)

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