The 5 best dystopic novels about Hollywood in Los Angeles

1) Ape and Essence

Published in 1948, this novel is both a satire of Hollywood and a vision of a dystopic world, where humans have become apes that destroy themselves. The novel structure is interesting: two film-industry exes go to the desert (where Huxley lived at the time of writing) in search of a screenwriter; that man’s screenplay composes most of the novel.

by Aldous Huxley, 1948

2) The Day of the Locust

West’s novel is a scathing critique of the American dream set among the biggest proponents of it – the health seekers and Hollywood strivers of
Los Angeles. The protagonist is a newly arrived set designer living in Hollywood; many of his experiences derive from West’s own life – working as screenwriter, he lived in a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard.

by Nathanael West, 1939

3) Less Than Zero

This 1985 novel about morally vacuous teenagers in LA was also made into the 1987 film starring Robert Downey Jr. It follows the main character, Clay, who has returned home to LA after his first semester in college to find much hedonism and casual nihilism among his over-privileged friends.

by Brett Easton Ellis, 1985

4) Play It As It Lays

The bard of California, Didion offers incredible insights into life on the left coast, but her 1970 novel about a washed- up actress and her estranged Hollywood-director husband captured the ennui, not just of the Hollywood elite, but of American society.

by Joan Didion, 1970

5) What Makes Sammy Run

Often cited as the best book about the dark side of Hollywood, this is the book all aspiring actors should read. The novel follows Sammy Glick,
a poor Jewish kid from New York, as he rises, unscrupulously, to Hollywood power. Schulberg wrote what he knew – he was an acclaimed screenwriter, and his father ran a film studio.

by Budd Schulberg, 1941

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