Dark Passages: Where American Dreams Go to Die

Over the weekend, my newest Dark Passages column ran online at the LAT, featuring my take on new books by Elizabeth Brundage and Chandra Hoffman. Although the books don’t seem connected, I found some larger themes to link them as I explain in the piece’s opening:

America has long trafficked in the idea that so long as you have a sound mind, a strong work ethic and maybe a connection or two, the sky is the limit, and dreams can come true. Most of the time this idea is mythology, its metaphorical streets littered with broken souls who never came close or were within tantalizing reach of everything they wanted. And yet, the country still keeps this myth alive thanks to the scant few who do make it happen and the thousands, if not millions, panting for success.

Nowhere is the dichotomy between mythos and reality more prominent than in Hollywood, where nubile young things and those with serious acting and filmmaking chops flock to assert their right to a sliver of glory — or, if they are lucky, much more than that. So what if the price of fame means getting plastered on the cover of a tabloid or being abandoned by the moneymen when your ability to make money is compromised? Those are just painful ends justifying the striving needs of those with stars in their eyes. For some, they are attractive choices compared to more violent alternatives….

Read on for the rest. And apologies for the radio silence around here, but moving to a new apartment and a lack of reliable Internet access curtails all but necessary (read: paying) activities. More regular dispatches are available via Twitter.