17 October 2009

Hollywood Ending

by Kathy Charles

The Text Publishing Company. Adult Other, Australian. Paperback rrp $32.95

We’ve all read or heard about people that do tours around Hollywood’s seamier side. Visiting places where famous people have died or are buried. When does the fascination stop and the strangeness of its reality begin?

Hilda and Benji are two lost seventeen year olds. They met over the death of a cat near their high school and soon realise they have much in common. After returning the body of the cat back to its owner, the two hook up and start to venture around Hollywood’s “dead” spots.

They love visiting the sites of death, whether it’s an old theatre being pulled down or the movie scene of real life tragedy Sometimes they keep mementoes, Benji’s in his parent’s mansion locked safely away in a glass cabinet, Hilda’s in a box in the small bedroom she has at her aunt’s home. Hilda’s parents died tragically so her fascination with death is not surprising but is Benji fascinated with Hilda or her past?

During the summer holidays, they go to Echo Park. A place that is a tired and faded memory of a once successful movie business. Amongst the rundown buildings they visit an apartment where a silent movie star stabbed himself in the bathroom with a pair of nail scissors. Initially, they only want to take a photo and maybe a tile from the bathroom. But Hilda is intrigued by Hank, the old man who now lives in the apartment and who seems to be holding a bigger secret.

Hilda starts to visit Hank without Benji. Benji has immersed himself into a cult of celebrity death whilst Hilda is trying to climb out of it. Then Hank’s downstairs neighbour, Jake, starts turning up at Hank’s. What does Jake want with Hank and even more suspicious, what does he want with Hilda?

Hollywood Ending is a tale of death, celebrities and cults. It is a sad reflection of the seedy, grimy side of Hollywood. It dragged me in and made me a voyeur in this weird and strange world. I have always loved Hollywood and its movie stars. Once such a shiny image it is now dark and strange.


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