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Matthew Specktor
Matthew Specktor
Novelist, memoirist, screenwriter, critic. Author of Always Crashing in The Same Car
Nonfiction
Essays
Hollywood
Film
Where else you can find me
Personal website
Substack
Book a 1:1 with Matthew
Hi!

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Talk soon,
Sam

Welcome,

On my mind

Things you're writing, books you're reading, film, literature, Los Angeles and LA history, the movie business, any kind of writing (or even non-writing) advice, music recommendations.

Why I'm excited to talk with readers

I love hearing from readers about nearly anything. Writing is a solitary business, and it's always a great joy to compare enthusiasms―or struggles!―and to see how we might light the way for each other.

Feel free to say hello,

Matthew

Let's talk! Open to...👇
Freewheeling conversations
Questions about my writing
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My latest
My Substack
 by 
Matthew Specktor
Where I've written

Always Crashing in the Same Car

On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California

Blending memoir and cultural criticism, Matthew Specktor explores family legacy, the lives of artists, and a city that embodies both dreams and disillusionment.

A few months shy of his fortieth birthday, Matthew Specktor moved into a crumbling Los Angeles apartment opposite the one in which F. Scott Fitzgerald spent the last moments of his life. Fitz had been Specktor’s first literary idol, someone whose own passage through Hollywood had, allegedly, broken him. Freshly divorced, professionally flailing, and reeling from his mother’s cancer diagnosis, Specktor was feeling unmoored. But rather than giving in or “cracking up,” he embarked on an obsessive journey to make sense of the mythologies of “success” and “failure” that haunt the artist’s life and the American imagination.

"Remarkable. . . . Writing through his troubles, Specktor offers consolatory beauty."

The Los Angeles Times

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American Dream Machine

American Dream Machine is the story of an iconic striver, a classic self-made man in the vein of Jay Gatsby or Augie March. It's the story of a talent agent and his troubled sons, two generations of Hollywood royalty. It's a sweeping narrative about parents and children, the movie business, and the sundry sea changes that have shaped Hollywood, and by extension, American life. Beau Rosenwald―overweight, not particularly handsome, and improbably charismatic―arrives in Los Angeles in 1962 with nothing but an ill-fitting suit and a pair of expensive brogues. By the late 1970s he has helped found the most successful agency in Hollywood. Through the eyes of his son, we watch Beau and his partner go to war, waging a seismic battle that redraws the lines of an entire industry. We watch Beau rise and fall and rise again, in accordance with the cultural transformations that dictate the fickle world of movies. We watch Beau's partner, the enigmatic and cerebral Williams Farquarsen, struggle to contain himself, to control his impulses and consolidate his power. And we watch two generations of men fumble and thrive across the LA landscape, learning for themselves the shadows and costs exacted by success and failure. Mammalian, funny, and filled with characters both vital and profound, American Dream Machine is a piercing interrogation of the role―nourishing, as well as destructive―that illusion plays in all our lives.

"Sprawling, atmospheric. . .[American Dream Machine has] a feline watchfulness and a poetic sensibility that echoes Bellow's and Updike's prose rhythms along with their voracious, exuberant intelligence."

― New York Times Book Review

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That Summertime Sound

That Summertime Sound is the liner note to that perfect summer single and all its aching echoes, written with the gimlet eye of Jim Thompson, Kazuo Ishiguro’s sense of wonder, and a true believer’s ear for music.

“Matthew Specktor’s That Summertime Sound isn’t so much a book as it is a door, hinged in memory, and swinging wide to every tenderhearted throb of lust and longing and precocious regret still there where you left it, at the periphery of adulthood. How does the novel perform this trick? By prose as lucid and classical as Graham Greene’s in The End of the Affair, yet saturated in detail such that if you’d never had the luck to outgrow an 80s’ teenage dream in Columbus, Ohio, you’ll feel you had after reading it.”

— Jonathan Lethem

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