Magazine article The World and I

Mr. Dickens Goes to Hollywood - Hollywood Novelist, 'Nice Jewish Boy'

Magazine article The World and I

Mr. Dickens Goes to Hollywood - Hollywood Novelist, 'Nice Jewish Boy'

Article excerpt

Movies are West Coast, publishing is East Coast, and that's how it's always been. Yet Bruce Wagner has been able to penetrate both worlds. He's directed two films based on his second novel, I'm Losing You. (One shared the title, the other shared a section title from the book, "Women in Film.") Wagner has also written a diverse array of screenplays: director Paul Bartel's Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills; the edgy, short-lived TV series helmed by David Lynch, Wild Palms; and a sequel to the unabashedly exploitative Freddy Krueger slasher flick, Nightmare on Elm Street.

At the same time, however, New York--centric book critics have embraced his three novels of Hollywood and California's broader landscape. Perhaps for that very reason, upscale Los Angeles media outlets seem to be less receptive to his work. Not that Wagner, 47, minds. "If one can still be invisible in a sense, then I think that's a powerful tool, not so much because you can observe in a more fastidious way if you're invisible, but also just in terms of one's own vanity. If one is not given tremendous accolades or attention, I think that's simply better for one's artistic spirit," he told the L.A. Times.

What does upset Wagner is the fact that many readers--even admirers-- see his books merely as black-comic satires about soulless West Coasters. "In my first novel, Force Majeure, there's a very long section about a man who pretends to be a Holocaust survivor. ... That book was very widely reviewed, but that section was only referred to once," he told the Border's book chain Web site. …

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