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The Hollywood Spiral

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The long-awaited literary return of the author of the critically acclaimed cult classic Apathy and Other Small Victories: a darkly comic novel, set in the near future, about the race to find a missing cyber program with the power to bend reality, all before a fast-approaching comet destroys the Earth. In the near future, after the internet grinds to a halt amid a wave of cy The long-awaited literary return of the author of the critically acclaimed cult classic Apathy and Other Small Victories: a darkly comic novel, set in the near future, about the race to find a missing cyber program with the power to bend reality, all before a fast-approaching comet destroys the Earth. In the near future, after the internet grinds to a halt amid a wave of cyber-attacks, a company named Zodiac steps in to replace it with an evolved, augmented-reality version called the Grid. Harrigan, a hard-drinking private detective living as off-Grid as possible, is about to be evicted from his apartment when a stranger shows up asking for his help in finding Anna, an escort who's absconded with more than just his heart. Turns out that through Harrigan's new client, Anna has come into possession of a program/entity called Mirror, Mirror, which has the capacity to merge the Grid and reality, bending both to the whims of the program's user. Soon Harrigan finds himself up against the last surviving organized crime gangs in Los Angeles, Zodiac's mercenaries, and a mysterious group called the First Church Multiverse, all of whom are hot on the trail of Mirror, Mirror—if the comet rapidly approaching Earth doesn't kill them all first.


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The long-awaited literary return of the author of the critically acclaimed cult classic Apathy and Other Small Victories: a darkly comic novel, set in the near future, about the race to find a missing cyber program with the power to bend reality, all before a fast-approaching comet destroys the Earth. In the near future, after the internet grinds to a halt amid a wave of cy The long-awaited literary return of the author of the critically acclaimed cult classic Apathy and Other Small Victories: a darkly comic novel, set in the near future, about the race to find a missing cyber program with the power to bend reality, all before a fast-approaching comet destroys the Earth. In the near future, after the internet grinds to a halt amid a wave of cyber-attacks, a company named Zodiac steps in to replace it with an evolved, augmented-reality version called the Grid. Harrigan, a hard-drinking private detective living as off-Grid as possible, is about to be evicted from his apartment when a stranger shows up asking for his help in finding Anna, an escort who's absconded with more than just his heart. Turns out that through Harrigan's new client, Anna has come into possession of a program/entity called Mirror, Mirror, which has the capacity to merge the Grid and reality, bending both to the whims of the program's user. Soon Harrigan finds himself up against the last surviving organized crime gangs in Los Angeles, Zodiac's mercenaries, and a mysterious group called the First Church Multiverse, all of whom are hot on the trail of Mirror, Mirror—if the comet rapidly approaching Earth doesn't kill them all first.

30 review for The Hollywood Spiral

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter Derk

    I waited for this to pop up on my Kindle. I even connected that thing to the internet, losing all the library books I'd stashed on there, hidden away from The Man because if you get your library books, put them on your Kindle, and then go Airplane Mode, you can hang onto them. I'm told. I'd never do such a thing. This was just a farcical, wildly imaginative way for me to explain how excited I was for Paul Neilan's new book. Um. We had a problem. This might be a problem specific to me and some read I waited for this to pop up on my Kindle. I even connected that thing to the internet, losing all the library books I'd stashed on there, hidden away from The Man because if you get your library books, put them on your Kindle, and then go Airplane Mode, you can hang onto them. I'm told. I'd never do such a thing. This was just a farcical, wildly imaginative way for me to explain how excited I was for Paul Neilan's new book. Um. We had a problem. This might be a problem specific to me and some readers like me. When there are more than 5 major characters, I can't keep track of them worth a damn. When there get to be 10+, I stop trying. This isn't necessarily a weakenss of The Hollywood Spiral, it's a personal weakness, and it's probably why I never read fantasy novels. When I tried to read Lord of the Rings, I was like, "Are all these dwarves and hobbits and shit really necessary? Couldn't these characters be combined? Couldn't like three of these hobbits stand on each others' shoulders and get under a trench coat and be one guy? If there are ten-ish characters, to accommodate my disability, I need them to have outrageous names, some kind of physical feature or tic that's very distinct, and I need a reminder, a cue of some kind, most times each character re-appears. This is somewhat true early into a season of Survivor, and I even have visual cues and the sounds of their voices to distinguish them. The Hollywood Spiral did not baby me, and I suffered for not realizing early on that there was a good number of characters to track, and in a mystery plot, knowing who's who is pretty damn important. Some of this wasn't my fault. I'll blame some of it on not me. When there's a character named Eddie Lompoc, I think it's fair to call him either Eddie or Eddie Lompoc, but if you go that route, don't switch it up on me and sometimes call him just Lompoc. Or, don't go the other way, call him Eddie Lompoc and sometimes just Lompoc, but then hit me with an "Eddie." When you've got two different ways of referring to 10 different characters, that's 20 pieces of information for the reader to remember just to keep track of all the players on the board. By the end, I sort of felt like there were four different books mashed up in here. There was a comedy, a cult/crime thing, a techno/social media crime thing, and also just a crime novel. I mean, it's been like 15 years since we got Paul Neilan's last book, and it kinda makes sense if he had this many ideas going on. I just ended up feeling like maybe it'd be better to see something more focused. I was watching Master Chef Junior last night because, despite what people tell you, there is an end to the amount of reality TV on Hulu, and Gordon Ramsay was telling this kid who totally fucked up a cake something like, "You know, if you're not really sure how to do something, instead of making it complicated and hoping no one will notice, make it really simple and give those simple elements your best effort, and you'll end up with something better." The kid didn't get eliminated, which was fair, but boy was that cake an embarrasment. I bet his family was so ashamed of him. Probably had to sleep out on the porch that night. Anyway, I think Paul Neilan definitely knows how to write a book and tell a story, I just found that there were some parts in this book that I loved and some parts I wanted to get through so I could get back to the good parts. The parts with the main character talking to his old boss, and his old boss is recounting stories from his youth in an Alzheimer's haze? Amazing. Hilarious. Heartbreaking. Perfect. I don't want to spoil it, but there's a surprise near the end that's packed with laughs. But I felt like a lot of the rest of the book was like moving the pieces around on a chess board, like the character went here because someone gave him this clue, then here because this clue, and that might be fun for some readers, but it's not my cup of cake. When I finished, there was a lot of good, some not as good, and there was too much for me to handle in one book of this length. ALL THAT SAID: I think this is a reading problem that's specific to me and a handful of other people. I've suffered at least 3 concussions in my life. I'm not the first example to look for when it comes to tracking with a tight plot and full cast. I'm not even a good person to advise on it. Frankly, it's super irresponsible of Goodreads to even let me review shit on here. "He could be just anyone!" is what people usually say, and to that I say, "You wish, buddy. I'm not anyone. I'm me. And that's way, way worse."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Thomas James Atteridg

    Neilan finally returns with a wicked and wild foray into near-future science fiction that expands upon the brilliant moments that made Apathy and Other Small Victories a cult classic.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matt Murphy

    Finally, an eagerly awaited book has lived up to my anticipation. Like many fans of Apathy and Other Small Victories, I've waited more than a decade for a second Paul Neilan novel, and I was thrilled when The Hollywood Spiral was announced. This isn’t a sequel to Apathy. It’s an entirely different story, somewhat sci-fi but not so much that it’s not enjoyable for those of us who aren’t interested in that genre. Neilan’s quality of storytelling has improved without losing its wit and sarcasm, his Finally, an eagerly awaited book has lived up to my anticipation. Like many fans of Apathy and Other Small Victories, I've waited more than a decade for a second Paul Neilan novel, and I was thrilled when The Hollywood Spiral was announced. This isn’t a sequel to Apathy. It’s an entirely different story, somewhat sci-fi but not so much that it’s not enjoyable for those of us who aren’t interested in that genre. Neilan’s quality of storytelling has improved without losing its wit and sarcasm, his main character is more likable, and his humor fits better in Hollywood. Where Apathy often felt like a long Family Guy episode with its hilarious tangents that wander away from the story, Hollywood fits its humor more tidily within the story. Overall, Hollywood is a better book than Apathy. It’s a fun story that’ll keep you flipping the pages. Neilan grew into an excellent storyteller while refining the unique humor that made us love him.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Paul Neilan wrote a book called Apathy and Other Small Victories in 2006. It is one of the funniest things I have ever read. I quote it, I have screenshots of passages I send to friends, I recommend it to everyone. Paul Neilan hasn’t written anything since 2006 until now. When I saw The Hollywood Spiral pop up on Edelweiss, I took a double take. Rarer than a new Chuck Palahniuk novel, the title of the book lit up with a golden halo in my eyes and I know every Paul Neilan fan out there feels the Paul Neilan wrote a book called Apathy and Other Small Victories in 2006. It is one of the funniest things I have ever read. I quote it, I have screenshots of passages I send to friends, I recommend it to everyone. Paul Neilan hasn’t written anything since 2006 until now. When I saw The Hollywood Spiral pop up on Edelweiss, I took a double take. Rarer than a new Chuck Palahniuk novel, the title of the book lit up with a golden halo in my eyes and I know every Paul Neilan fan out there feels the same. The Hollywood Spiral is a near future noir story about a typical chain smoking alcoholic private eye with a penchant for champagne and avoiding the government. Someone is going around murdering men and making it look like they died from autoerotic asphyxiation. Sometimes with a cucumber found in an uncomfortable place to send a message. Harrigan sloughs through a gang boss who does stand up comedy, a drink the kool-aid cult that pushes people to believe alopecia is a way into enlightenment, and a government that threatens small children to eat their raisin bran or they will get picked up by child molesters. “The difference between a hooker and a hostess is companionship not sex, like cocker spaniels”. “ “Grid. Is. Good. When life gives you lemons, Grid Makes you lemonade. Grid bakes you a lemon sponge cake. Grid puts those lemons in the freezer and stuffs them in a tube sock and then beats the shit out of life the next time it tries to pass out it’s half-assed citrus fruit off on you”. Everything we loved in Apathy is here and doesn’t disappoint. Paul Neilan is a literary treasure and should be known by everyone. https://piratetwinkiereadsblog.wordpr...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Natalia Nazeem Ahmed

    This hardboiled detective thriller is fascinating because of its setting - in a futuristic world where a single company, Zodiac, controls most of the media that the population consumes, resulting in a near-monopoly on the citizens. The company has created the 'Grid', instituting a form of social credit where, the more active you are on the Grid, the more 'balanced' and 'well' you are, according to Zodiac. Of course, staying off the Grid can result in a form of Assessment, where the system will a This hardboiled detective thriller is fascinating because of its setting - in a futuristic world where a single company, Zodiac, controls most of the media that the population consumes, resulting in a near-monopoly on the citizens. The company has created the 'Grid', instituting a form of social credit where, the more active you are on the Grid, the more 'balanced' and 'well' you are, according to Zodiac. Of course, staying off the Grid can result in a form of Assessment, where the system will assess you, and can result in penalties, including capture and containment. Meet Harrigan, the detective who's tasked with finding a missing girl, Anna, by a desperate man, Volga, who's determined that she's been taken and needs to be found. Harrigan goes on a chase that leads him to several factions that are looking to overthrow Zodiac, from rebel groups to the 'church of the multiverse'. He also comes across some ground-breaking technology that has the potential to undermine Zodiac, and the Grid, at its core, which means that Zodiac is also on the hunt. The book combines this sci-fi setting with the hardboiled detective trope, making for a very interesting novel that goes beyond the missing person, to address the society at large. It was a very interesting read, one that tested the boundaries of the trope while constructing a rich world that's ripe for change.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    A fun dalliance between pulpy noir and cyberpunk; feels a bit like The Expanse Season 1 without the intergalactic politics and with more standup comedy. Stops to play "whose on first" and various runners on Schroedinger's cat, with varying degrees of humorous achievement, but the commentary on characters works enough to carry it. The thing with noir on the page, as opposed to the screen, is when you don't give the characters enough sharp distinguishing features - whether in tone, appearance, motiv A fun dalliance between pulpy noir and cyberpunk; feels a bit like The Expanse Season 1 without the intergalactic politics and with more standup comedy. Stops to play "whose on first" and various runners on Schroedinger's cat, with varying degrees of humorous achievement, but the commentary on characters works enough to carry it. The thing with noir on the page, as opposed to the screen, is when you don't give the characters enough sharp distinguishing features - whether in tone, appearance, motivation, style, etc - and then you have SO many of them, then you put them in a world which isn't traditional noir IE a futuristic or parallel world with more of its own systems, conventions, names, rituals, etc., to keep track of . . . it ends up being distracting.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Lund

    Future noir detective meets New Weird - whatever this novel is, it is very different from anything I've read lately and I loved it. Closest in tone to The City and the City by China Mieville. Future noir detective meets New Weird - whatever this novel is, it is very different from anything I've read lately and I loved it. Closest in tone to The City and the City by China Mieville.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Savan Sicurella

    convoluted and hard to follow

  9. 4 out of 5

    Floyd

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rlsalvati

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lana

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rochelle Selwyn

  14. 5 out of 5

    Josie

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Arnold

  16. 4 out of 5

    William

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Dadaliaris

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sean Trinder

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  20. 5 out of 5

    Farley

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia Aromatorio

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andypants

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andi

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Farrance

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ian

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christian

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

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