Tim Blake Nelson

City of Blows

Fiction - General

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Tim Blake Nelson’s debut novel is an epic group portrait of four men grappling for control of a script in a radically changing Hollywood, or The City of Blows.

It’s early 2019 and the legendary (and legendarily difficult) producer Jacob Rosenthal is hellbent on producing his next film, Coal, adapted from the bestselling novel by celebrated (but long deceased) writer Rex Patterson. For reasons profoundly personal, the project—which takes on the controversial topic of race in America—is Jacob’s envisioned magnum opus, and likely his swan song. For equally personal reasons, Jacob selects Jim Levit to direct; a major opportunity for the classically trained actor/director whose own films, while garnering some critical acclaim, have not yet resulted in box office success.

The announcement of Jim’s hiring for Coal does not sit well with another producer who has worked with Jim, Aaron Gilman. With a career spiraling out of control, Aaron increasingly needs someone to blame, and Jim is the softest target he can think of. As he channels the last remaining vestiges of his creativity into a revenge plot that will ruin Jim’s big break (and Jacob’s crowning achievement), Aaron’s tragicomic origin story is revealed. But it is his agent and boyhood friend, the handsome and successful David McCann, who triggers a greater unraveling—and a long over-due reckoning for abuse and coercion masquerading as traditional Hollywood masculinity.

A sharply crafted satire, City of Blows is both love letter and indictment of the film industry from an insider. You will find yourself laughing in spite of the ruthlessness and despair, the hubris and the sheer evil, as City of Blows accelerates to its crescendo.