True Grandeur, written by Hollywood actor, writer, and filmmaker Cal R. Barnes, has generated near-universal acclaim since its release in September of 2017. The story — which was inspired by experiences from the author’s first years in Hollywood — tells the tale of a young man named Conrad Arlington who moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a great artist.
Upon arrival, Conrad goes through the traditional Hollywood struggles, spending his days going out on fruitless auditions and his evenings’ typing and pecking away at scripts in his apartment whilst attempting to climb the social and artistic latter to higher success. Eventually, that day comes, where a film brings him to the attention of Gracie Garrison, a mysterious young Hollywood socialite who takes an interest in him.
After a few months of courtship and a magical night on the town that would rival that of Hollywood’s top elite, Conrad wakes up to find that Gracie is gone, resulting in a downward spiral of lies and deception where Conrad must go into the darkest depths of his soul to uncover the truth of not only what happened to Gracie, but of who he is as a person.
True Grandeur deals with coming-of-age themes such as growing up, chasing dreams, and manifest destiny. The innate need for individual importance is engrained throughout Conrad’s journey, and the subtle divisions that exist between the social and artistic classes of Los Angeles are also explored. The complexities and difficulties of attempting to attain true love whilst achieving and sustaining a successful career as an artist is one of the main, overarching themes that blankets the whole novel.
Conrad makes references to authors and artists that inspired him throughout the book. At the beginning of chapter three, he references a series of authors that wrote Los Angeles Novels and Hollywood Novels, including F. Scott Fitzgerald for This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, and his Hollywood novel, The Last Tycoon, writer Harold Robbins for his Los Angeles novels The Dream Merchants and The Carpetbaggers, as well as Los Angeles fiction authors John Fante, Budd Schulberg, Gavin Lambert, Alison Lurie, Nathaniel West, MacDonald Harris, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Norman Mailer.
Magic Hour Press
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