(pb; 2021: movie tie-in)
From the first inside page
“RICK DALTON—Once he had his
own TV series, but now Rick’s a washed-up villain-of-the-week drowning his
sorrows in whiskey sours. Will a phone call from Rome save his fate or seal it?
“CLIFF BOOTH—Rick’s stunt
double, and the most infamous man on any movie set because he’s the only one
there who might have gotten away with
“SHARON TATE—She left Texas to
chase a movie-star dream and found it. Sharon’s salad days are now spent on
Cielo Drive, high in the Hollywood Hills.
“CHARLES MANSON—The ex-con’s
got a bunch of zonked-out hippies thinking he’s their spiritual leader, but he’d
trade it all to be a rock ‘n’ roll star.
“HOLLYWOOD 1969—YOU SHOULDA
More an expansive, structural rework
companion piece to Tarantino’s 2019 character-centric, plot-rambling and
world-building film, Once is best read as a screenplay without a script
structure. (When I write “rework” I mean it—e.g., the film’s climactic finish
is lacking in the book, mentioned in almost-conversational passing early on. And
when I write expansive, that’s equally true of Once, especially when
Tarantino details Cliff Booth’s immediate post-WWII years (considering becoming
a “man of leisure” in Paris; the details of his stateside homicides, once in
Cleveland, the other his wife’s on-boat demise). As with the film, there’s a
lot of sly mixing of real-life history and often-wistful, sometimes meta-humored,
wish-it-happened Hollywood fantasy.
Mostly, Once works as
an alternate-version, well-written book, though Tarantino, true to form, sometimes
lets his love of cinema, his characters, and world-building run long (e.g.,
chapters where he details the plots and characters of his fictional television
shows as well as the passages detailing the foreign films that Cliff likes and
Once is an
impressive, sometimes exasperating (excessive detailing of films and shows)
read, one worth checking out, perhaps owning, if you’re looking for something more
than the usual, rigid-to-the-film movie tie-in book, and/or a Tarantino fan.