Reviews > Published on April 13th, 2016

Bookshots: 'Movie Stars' by Jack Pendarvis

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Movie Stars

Who wrote it?

Writers and other creatives will find ['Movie Stars'] especially amusing and uncomfortably accurate in some places.

Jack Pendarvis, a writer and story editor for the TV show Adventure Time.

Plot in a Box:

It’s a collection of short stories, so it varies. Although some of them make small references to each other, the only thing that really unites them is a theme of wistful yearning.

Invent a new title for this book:

As The World Yearns

Read this if you like(d):

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Meet the books lead(s):

There are many, but the majority are middle-aged, presumably white men with vivid imaginations and frustrated ambitions. Some are writers of one fashion or another. A blurring of the boundaries between fantasy and reality is also common.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Ben Stiller could play just about every protagonist in here. I think Isla Fisher would be great as Amy O’Brien in the send-up of scary stories, The Black Parasol.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Most of these characters seem to be leading fairly comfortable, if unfulfilled, existences in California. It could certainly be worse.

What was your favorite sentence?

There was something kind of trashy about trying to capture people on a napkin, or on any kind of paper.

The Verdict:

Movie Stars is an entertaining read, and most of its entries are short, bite-sized bits of humor. I’m sure writers and other creatives will find it especially amusing and uncomfortably accurate in some places. While there are many sentences I will remember and chuckle at for a long time, the stories themselves are so similar as to be collectively unremarkable. All of the stories are funny, each making me laugh aloud at least once, but once I put the book down it ultimately felt disposable, like a sketch on Saturday Night Live. The two notable exceptions are “Dazzling Ladies of Science Fiction” and “The Black Parasol”, which are clever meta-textual tales about about the nature and process of storytelling. Pendarvis’ Movie Stars is a fun menagerie of quirky characters to browse, but it’s closer to a collection of jokes than an anthology of literature. An excellent read for the daily commute.

About the author

BH Shepherd is a writer and a DJ from Texas. He graduated from Skidmore College in 2005 with degrees in English and Demonology after writing a thesis about Doctor Doom. A hardcore sci-fi geek, noir junkie and comic book prophet, BH Shepherd has spent a lot of time studying things that don’t exist.  He currently resides in Austin, where he is working on The Greatest Novel Ever.

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