Staff Picks

The Hollywood Spiral

Gabbi Cisneros

June 10, 2021

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After a year of spending most of the time in front of digital devices, near-future world of Paul Neilan's new book feels even more present.

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 The Hollywood Spiral by Paul Neilan, Grand Central Publishing 

Paul Neilan's previous novel and his first, Apathy and Other Small Victories, was a unique, dark humor-infused murder mystery narrated by an apathetic 20-something named Shane. It was a hit and (based on its GoodReads reviews) continues to entertain readers since its 2006 publication. I think readers will find the fifteen year wait for Neilan's latest novel worth it. 

This first-person thriller follows Harrigan as he searches for a woman named Anna in a near-future Los Angeles–an era near enough that one character's father sent in a tape to "one of those Funniest Videos shows." Included in this more technological era of Los Angeles are holographic prostitutes and "Compliance and Optimization" conditioning alongside cigars, guns, and gambling. Harrigan is witty with a chip on his shoulder, strangely calm as he traverses the city, encountering many strange and terrifying characters and organizations along the way in his search for Anna and the virtual reality and reality-shifting program she possesses called "Mirror, Mirror." 

It's not hard to track someone down. Most people can't wait to tell you where they are, where they've been, where they're headed next. They're desperate to be discovered. They can't wait to be found. That's why they're on Grid. 

There's government surveillance ("Zodiac"), a Facebook-esque Identification/virtual reality Program ("Grid”), a creative/tech firm ("The Accelerator"), and also a comet hurtling towards Earth. After a year of spending most of the time in front of digital devices, The Hollywood Spiral's near-future world feels even more present.

About The Author

Gabriella Cisneros is usually ‘Gabbi.’ She is a recent graduate of UW-Milwaukee, with degrees in Film and Spanish, and she’s a new addition to Porchlight Books. It’s kind of a dream job for someone who has a 55 page, indexed document of interesting words she’s found in books. Gabbi regularly makes time for taking photos, traveling, attending concerts, trying new restaurants, listening to the podcast "Ologies," blogging, filmmaking, fitness, and—of course—reading.

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