Title: Everybody Smokes in Hell
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: As New
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition.
Signed by Author 0375401431 This hardcover book is Fine, being square and tight. The boards and spine have no wear with pristine lettering. The pages and endpages are clean, with no markings or folds. The dustjacket is As New. Original Price is intact. Not ex-lib. No remainder mark. This copy is signed by the Author on the title page without inscription. Bookseller Inventory # 006524
Synopsis: John Ridley -- author of Stray Dogs and Love Is a Racket -- is back with a scathingly funny, outrageous new novel that chronicles the mayhem unleashed by the misadventures of one hapless young man trying to make it in Hollywood.
Paris Scott can't make anything work out. A failed Hollywood screenwriter, he works nights at a convenience store, and drives a '74 Gremlin. And he was just dumped by his best girl. But when the last master tape of a freshly-suicided rock star and a small fortune's worth of stolen drugs fall into his lap, he seems to have stumbled on the key to his dreams.
It might as well be a neutron bomb.
Although the people who want the dope get themselves dangerously confused with the people who want the tape, it's clear to everyone that Paris is the target. And how does a guy who's wanted dead stay alive? "Get out of town, get some money, then get more out of town." Paris puts his Gremlin in gear and the resulting chase and chain- reaction madness stretches from Los Angeles to Las Vegas leaving a trail of blood, bodies, and broken hearts in its wake.
Dope dealers, Hollywood agents, two-bit criminals, three-bit criminals, waitresses, rock stars, strippers, beautiful women, not-so-beautiful women, honest working Joes and psychopaths -- no one comes out clean in this raucous romp-and-stomp. It's John Ridley at his most devilishly sly, laying out proof that, without a doubt, everybody smokes in hell.
Review: After a bad night at the 24-hour market in Hollywood where he works, Paris Scott finds the Filthy White Guy who just bought a ton of frozen burritos with a hundred-dollar bill (and then destroyed the store's microwave), slumped half-conscious on Scott's rusty 1976 AMC Gremlin. "Paris wasn't a particularly good person," writes John Ridley, "and that was by his own figuring. It's not like he hung around soup kitchens doling out freebies, or gave a damn when dykes were outside Mayfair Market in WeHo collecting money for the AIDS Walk, but he was one of those 'There but for the grace of God' guys; one of those guys that thought if you went out of your way to ignore someone else's bad shit then that same bad shit was liable to boomerang around and smack you in the head at some point." So Paris gives the Filthy White Guy a lift home, and it turns out he's a famous rock star, who repays the favor by calling Paris a loser before passing out. Paris gets even by stealing a tape of the singer's proposed comeback album, an action that might get him killed if the folks who are after the stolen dope that Scott's roommate Buddy took get to him.
Ridley, who writes gritty, critically praised thrillers about Hollywood types who have traded in their dreams of stardom for the reality of survival (Love Is a Racket and Stray Dogs), hates Los Angeles "more than cancer" (as he says in a disclaimer). In Everybody Smokes in Hell, he describes the city with more poetry, passion, and mordant humor than anyone since Nathanael West in Day of the Locust. If you can tolerate the occasional outbursts of racism, sexism, and other non-PC activities, it's a journey worth making. --Dick Adler
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