"There was no way moving to Los Angeles was going to make me give up my soul. After all, I'd already seen all the movies about Hollywood. I knew how things worked."
Twenty-four-year-old Russel Middebrook and his boyfriend have moved to Los Angeles so Russel can try to make it as a screenwriter.
Almost right away, in a forgotten old house off of Sunset Boulevard, Russel meets Isaac Brander - a once-famous film producer who is convinced he can turn Russel's screenplay into a movie.
Russel knows that success can't possibly come this easy. After all, most of Russel's Los Angeles friends are so desperate to make it that it's downright scary. His ex-boyfriend, Otto, is trying everything to become an actor, and Daniel, the sexy neighbor, doesn't even need a casting couch to get naked.
So what's the catch with Mr. Brander? Could it be that movies about Hollywood don't tell the whole truth? But what does that mean for Russel's soul?
Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams, a companion book to Brent Hartinger's The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know, is a fast-paced, funny story about the price of fame in Hollywood: the hilarious lengths people will go to achieve it, and the touching secret to survival when things don't work out exactly as planned.
"A sharp, canny, highly engaging tour through a Hollywood of cunning characters and colorful intrigues, guided by the clever voice of Russel Middlebrook as an eager young screenwriter trying to bust in. I was charmed by every sly, sexy page." (Barry Sandler, screenwriter of Making Love and Crimes of Passion)
"With his trademark wit, warmth, and economy, Brent Hartinger brilliantly captures what it's like to move to L.A. and try and make it Hollywood: the highs and the lows, the friends and the phonies, the fun and the frustration. And by the way, is it too late for me to be Russel Middlebrook when I grow up?" (Dennis Hensley, co-screenwriter of Testosterone; author of Misadventures in the 213)
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Didn't connect to the story.
Having just listened to The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know I was up to date on what’s been happening in Russel’s life. Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams picks up a few months after the first story leaves off, with twenty-four year old Russel Middlebrook and his boyfriend, Kevin Land, having moved to Los Angeles so Russel can try to make it as a screenwriter.
I wanted to like the story, I really did, but in truth I didn’t connect with it. Again told completely from Russel’s POV, I felt like he was a lot more self-centered in this story than the last.
I liked some things, but didn’t like others. I liked Kevin and seeing them together, but didn’t like the way Russel treated Kevin for most of the story. I liked Otto and was happy to see him succeed. I didn’t like or see the point of Daniel’s storyline.
I felt like Russel’s ambition in this eclipsed his relationship at times, and I’m sorry to admit the whole storyline of his screenplay and broken dreams just bored me.
Also, I didn’t understand what happened to Russel’s friends Gunnar and Minh. No phone calls or even a single mention? What happened to them?
Once again though, I really enjoyed the narration. Josh Hurley really does an excellent job with the different character voices, and he tackles the different emotions of the story well.
I’m looking forward to more of Josh Hurley’s narration and spending time with the whole gang in the third (and final?) story in the series, The Road to Amazing (Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years #3), which will feature Russel and Kevin’s wedding weekend in Washington.
Go back to Seattle?
- M. Warren