The readers who've been following Brent Hartinger's sandy-
haired hero of the Russel Middlebrook series since high
school now try out the Hollywood lifestyle with him.
Russel's mid-twenties, and he and his handsome boyfriend
Kevin decide if they're ever going to try being screen
writers, it should be now. BAREFOOT IN THE CITY OF BROKEN
DREAMS sounds like a dispiriting title. But maybe Russel's
just barefoot because of the heat.
LA is more gay-friendly than Seattle, though even the
northerly city has modernised its views. However, the lads
are doing the same work for half the money. Russel sees a
sprawling, smoggy city, with appalling traffic, then he
finds the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre, and of course
they get lost. But it's romantic, fun, and full of
possibilities. Russel's trademark voice, full of youth,
enthusiasm and uncertainty, comes out again, bridging the
gap between the earlier books and this stage of maturity.
Russel's friend Otto lives here, and he's played a lot of
zombies. He gives Russel advice on how to fit in, including
buying expensive leather shoes as everyone dresses casually
except for the shoes. He also says that everyone overstates
their career achievements and nobody expects writers to be
able to hold a conversation. Able-bodied actors are still
cast in the roles of disabled people. Maybe life will be
more complicated than Russel realised.
Making movies about gay people used to be a very hard sell,
but at this time, Russel's script gets attention. We feel
the lad's self-doubts all over again. Can this elderly
producer really believe it's good? Is there some other
pitfall Russel doesn't know about? After all, he's hardly
here a week. Everything seems to be going swimmingly.
Unlike training as a doctor or lawyer, most would-be
Hollywood types never make it in their chosen careers.
There's just too much competition, too few people willing
to take chances on unknowns. This New Adult-feel novel is
partly based on the author Brent Hartinger's own
experiences. His earliest Russel book, THE GEOGRAPHY CLUB,
has been filmed and produced as a stage play.
If you want a guide to finding your feet in Tinsel Town, and finding what
desperation lies under the gloss, Brent Hartinger smartly
encapsulates the experience and reveals more of the trials
of the gay lifestyle as well. BAREFOOT IN THE CITY OF
BROKEN DREAMS is an entertaining read about the making of
entertainment and should be read by all those who consume
ďThere was no way moving to Los Angeles was going to make me
give up my soul. After all, Iíd already seen all the movies
about Hollywood. I knew how things worked.Ē
Twenty-four year-old Russel Middebrook and his boyfriend
have moved to Los Angeles so Russel can try to make it as a
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 Russelís
screenplay into a movie.
Russel knows that success canít possibly come this easy.
After all, most of Russelís Los Angeles friends are so
desperate to make it that itís downright scary. His
ex-boyfriend, Otto, is trying everything to become an actor,
and Daniel, the sexy neighbor, doesnít even need a casting
couch to get naked.
So whatís the catch with Mr. Brander? Could it be that
movies about Hollywood donít tell the whole truth? But what
does that mean for Russelís soul?
Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams, a companion book
to Brent Hartingerís The Thing I Didnít Know I Didnít 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 donít
work out exactly as planned.