I met a screen-writer at a party in Berkeley. He’d been very successful in Hollywood, but he didn’t have one good thing to say about the industry or his colleagues. Producers were conniving, directors were bullies, and stars were narcissistic imbeciles. Given his talent and brains, his contempt for his colleagues was understandable, but he was bitter, he was seething. He went on and on, feeding on negativity, as if to prove that an emotion perpetuates itself. Finally, he told a story. I promised not to repeat it, but I don’t feel bound. Others heard him. He was drunk and loud.

He’d been invited to LA to meet a group of wealthy people who wanted him to write a movie on a loathsome subject. This was neither here nor there. Any subject, he said, can be made worthwhile. What mattered was the way it was rendered. I disagreed, but he became impatient, he didn’t want to discuss ‘art’. He was too upset by life. He’d been offered for writing the movie a stupendous sum, endless cocaine, and a famous beautiful woman. When he said her name his voice leaped, spiralled up with revulsion, as if not to touch her. ‘They treated me like an animal.’

‘What did you say?’


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