Oscar-winning writer-director Max, whose star is clearly beginning to dim, wakes up the morning after the 2003 Academy Awards lying next to his lover and feeling understandably groggy from the previous evening's festivities. But this is no time for Max to lounge about and chat his way idly through a hangover. There's a houseful of guests to worry about, and they all need attention.
Here is a book full of everything one would expect in a tale about the Tinseltown glitterati: sex, politics, war, love, and the stories people tell. Ten Days in the Hills is a Hollywood yarn as only Smiley could deliver.
"Archly sexy and brilliant." (Booklist)
"Scintillating....Smiley delivers a delightful, subtly observant send-up of Tinseltown folly, yet she treats her characters, their concern with compelling surfaces, and their perpetual quest to capture reality through artifice, with warmth and seriousness." (Publishers Weekly)
I often list Jane Smiley as my favorite author. She is able to inhabit diverse environments from the world of realtors to Iowa farmers to horse racing to the life of a university research pig as though she spent a lifetime in each environ.
With Ten Days in the Hills she seems to have lost her authority. Unlike anything I have ever read of Jane Smiley's this book does not sound authentic. Smiley usually takes unsympathic characters and gives them a humanity that makes them seem real. These characters remain unappealing.
I thought that some of the reviews that I read before purchasing Ten Days were biased against Smiley because she is very liberal. Well, so am I and I find the politics in this book to be almost a caricature of what a neo-conservative would think of a liberal.
In addition, I find the narration grating. So much so that perhaps I wouldn't find the book to be so poor if I didn't have the narrators horrible voice characterizations in my head. Nearly unlistenable.
I anxiously await Jane Smiley's next book. She is so good that I can imagine that this one is just an aberration.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
I have read several books by Jane Smiley and loved every one of them. So I simply couldn't believe all the negative comments her latest book provoked and had to listen for myself. Well, I'll know better next time. I gave up after three hours. Boring, pointless navel gazing and musing. What were the critics thinking? Dear fellow readers, I'll take your warnings seriously next time..
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
This was the most boring book I have ever read or listened to. On and on and on with no real story. The author tries sending some political left wing messages but even they are boring.
I listen to these books to be unbored but this one put me to sleep.
23 of 29 people found this review helpful
I'm surprised at how scathing other reviewers have been. I found 'Ten Days in the Hills' to have the typical intimacy of Smiley's works.
The conversations among 10 people in a magnificent and isolated Hollywood house ramble around diets, ex's, psychobabble and movies, stop, but only temporarily, when news of the war intrudes. From an interview before the Iraq invasion, Smiley stated she was going to write about Hollywood, which I thought would be thinly veiled autobiography about the filming of 'A Thousand Acres': adding the backdrop adds perhaps some needed substance to the froth.
I find her style similar to Updike's, chronicling current mores and people with entitlement, but with more sympathy to her characters: there's usually something to like in most of them, even the greedy diva and the pompous guru, unlike Updike's Rabbits.
I love Smiley's descriptions of couples, which make me feel warm and reminiscent, and made me question my own definition of pornography. After a passage of what I thought crossed the line came a point to ponder: a middle-aged protagonist, Elena, is upset that her 20 year-old son skipped college to act in a classmate's porn movie and also that his actions are supported by the rest of the group, yet encourages her lover to film themselves making love.
As in love and war, where do we draw our own lines?
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I agree with others who have reviewed this book. It's not worth reading.
15 of 20 people found this review helpful
Watch wallpaper dry - it's more interesting! This may be the worst book I've ever heard. Boring beyond endurance.
11 of 15 people found this review helpful
"Ten Days in the Hills" was 9.5 days too long. The plot, based on Boccacio's "Decameron," centers around the lives of ten Hollywood-type people who are self-absorbed, obsessed with sex, and terminally boring.
Unless you are interested in the unerotic description of 50-something's genitals, I suggest you head for a different set of hills before buying this book.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
Or your time! The material in the book was as useless as what you find in tabloid newspapers...but not nearly as interesting. SKIP IT!!!!!!!!!
8 of 11 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
I would not. I read Smiley's Greenlanders, also epically long, and I loved it. But this was a tiresome story about very tiresome people. Maybe it's a "beach read" or a "beach listen."
Would you be willing to try another book from Jane Smiley? Why or why not?
I have tried other of her books, as I said. I know she is well regarded but certainly not for this book.
What about Suzanne Toren’s performance did you like?
The reader was better than the book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I was very excited about this book after a write up in my local paper. The book started great and I eagerly awaited for my walks to hear more. I'm stuck in the middle and have moved on to a new book. I became lost in where the book was going.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful