Impersonators Anonymous, Rick Lenz’s most recent novel, according to Grady Harp of San Francisco Review of Books, is one highly tuned machine of a novel. Highly recommended.
Lenz wrote stage plays that have been produced off-Broadway and on PBS. His first book, “North of Hollywood,” won a Foreword Book of the Year Award and was the first-place memoir in The Los Angeles Book Festival Awards. “The Alexandrite” won the Grand Prize in the Chanticleer Somerset Award for literary and contemporary fiction. It was also named Best Fantasy in the Reader Views Awards. It was named “One of the Best Books of The Year” by Kirkus Reviews and NY Times best-selling author, Bret Easton Ellis called it “Almost impossible to put down.”
When Lenz retired as a stage and film actor (playing opposite Ingrid Bergman, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Walter Matthau, Peter Sellers among others), his passion for drama refused to retire with him.
“I became a full-time writer because I loved doing it. It took me a long time to believe I had something to say. Now that it feels as if I do, I want to say it. I wake up every morning, wash my grogginess away with coffee, pick up in my story where I left off, and feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment when it comes out right. I love creating mysteries, then solving them. The more I write, the more it comes out right. I feel like a gambler on a lucky streak and I thank Heaven for it.”
Young, would-be a movie producer Emily Bennett doesn’t believe Have Gun Will Travel star, Richard Boone, when he tells her about a 2/3 completed film, starring James Dean and John Wayne.
But when she meets the old film editor who stole the master negative of the legendary Showdown, she finds two uncannily gifted celebrity impersonators, and with the aid of the emerging computer technology, sets out to complete the movie.
Filming showdown, Emily and her stars portray characters entangled in an ambiguous love triangle with Oedipal overtones that mirror their real-life dynamic. On top of this and distrusting her prima donnaish director, Emily and her brother (three face-lifts) struggle with unresolved issues about their dying father.
All of these flawed characters find themselves in the titular showdown of their lives when their interwoven back-stories come together in a stormy climax that reveals their hidden animosities, demons, and loves.
“Impersonators Anonymous is a great read. I found myself wanting to track the story down, find the missing movie and watch it. Excellent creativity and characterization. Rick Lenz has done it again. Entertaining, believable and a delightful journey from a Hollywood insider.”
— Beverly Vines-Haines: Award winning author
“Impersonators Anonymous was outstanding…. It was such a ‘good read” I didn’t want to put it down after I started it. I finished it in two days! Mr. Lenz is a fine author. I’ve read “The Alexandrite” as well and highly recommend it along with “Impersonators Anonymous!” I plan on reading “North of Hollywood next!”
— “Big Dog” 5-star Amazon review
“The writing propels the reader along the narrative in an easy yet compelling rhythm. One could pick this book up and consume it in one sitting but it’s better to take it in serially. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Recommended.”
— RGMax 5-star Amazon review
“Rick Lenz knocked it out of the ball park with this one! A novel, but with many authenticities only someone with Rick’s background would know . If you’ve read the Alexandrite and North of Hollywood you already know he is a very accomplished author. I highly recommend Impersonators Anonymous! I love the artwork on the cover too!”
— Cheryl L: 5-star Amazon review
“Who would imagine such an unusual story line? Rick Lenz, that’s who. This book is for everyone: Fans of old Hollywood, Geeks with unusual talents, and millennial techies. Mr. Lenz has combined these and other unique worlds into a fun and entertaining read. Buy the book for your next vacation, plane trip, or jury duty service. You won’t want to put it down.”
— Terry Brewer: 5-star Amazon review
“Impersonators Anonymous is an entirely unique and gripping novel with two eras of Hollywood as backdrop.”
— Michael Norell: Two time WGA Writer’s Award winner
View the video trailer for Impersonators Anonymous
When Jack Cade is fired from a no-pay stage production of Hamlet in 1996, he has no inkling his next role will be opposite Marilyn Monroe – in 1956. As a down-and-out forty-year-old actor, Jack’s luck – and life – change when he’s sent an anonymous note with a pawn ticket for an alexandrite ring. After his beloved wife leaves him, a mysterious woman asks him to meet her at an old house deep in the San Fernando Valley. With nothing to lose, Jack decides to go. Once he steps through her door, he enters a world of beguiling physics and plain old magic to travel through time. Through a glitzy and dark whirlwind of events, Jack meets Marilyn, gets killed (more than once), and emerges with the alexandrite, a famed stone that lies surprisingly at the heart of Jack’s life.
“Along the way, this fascinating look at the underbelly of Hollywood offers an intriguing glimpse into Monroe’s tragic life and death. Like Monroe, the novel is impressively complex. Lenz—himself a veteran actor—cunningly blends time travel, LA noir, Hollywood glitz and self-discovery, making for a uniquely appealing read. A stellar story illuminated by a star’s light and a man’s search for himself.”
— KIRKUS REVIEWS
View the video trailer for The Alexandrite
North of Hollywood
A spectrum of hardboiled fame, floodlit failures, hilarity and heartbreak, small and staggering successes, and self-discovery, North of Hollywood is a memoir of one actor’s journey from a shadowed childhood into the spotlight of Hollywood and into the heart of humanity itself. A critical success noted for its gentle and irreverent narrative, North of Hollywood has won nine national awards.
“Most people don’t know the simple truth that Lenz reveals in this captivating autobiography: Actors are real people, and acting is a real job … We’re enthralled by the glamour, but Lenz helps us focus on the real point: The hardest part of a glamorous life, of any life, is to find one’s feet and stay standing. Lenz is still standing, and North of Hollywood is a warm credible account of how he found his place in and out of the limelight. … The earned wisdom of a seasoned veteran.”
— US REVIEW OF BOOKS, a Recommended Review
Recognition for North of Hollywood
Foreword Book Reviews Book of the Year: Winner, Performing Arts
Los Angeles Book Festival: First Place, Memoir
REVIEWS for North of Hollywood
Winner of the Los Angeles Book Award and the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award
“Talent to burn.”
— LAUREN BACALL
“… An overwhelming sense of peace, the type gained through experience and reconciliation, pervades the novel from the very first few chapters. … A scattering of movie references provide readers with enough chronological anchors to highlight the memoir’s kaleidoscopic form without breaking the rhythm of Lenz’s poetic prose. The effect is beautiful, as if the reader were experiencing Lenz’s life from the perspective of every camera that ever filmed him.”
— FOREWORD BOOK REVIEWS
“Masterful … Standing ovation.”
— WRITERS DIGEST
“I was totally engaged with North of Hollywood, start to finish. Sometimes it felt like Rick Lenz wasn’t just ‘opening the kimono,’ as they say in the business, but was actually peeling off his skin. I admire his courage in telling it.”
— SCOTT CAMPBELL, author of TOUCHED and AFTERMATH
“An essential book for anyone who has ever said they want to be an actor and anyone who was lucky enough not to. Compulsively readable! … perceptive and poignant wisdom …”
— MICHAEL KAHN, artistic director of the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C.; former head of drama at The Juilliard School
“A touching, bittersweet remembrance of a workaday career in acting … He writes with self-punishing honesty … documents a career longevity that is breathtaking. … His story is more about self-acceptance than glory, and readers will cheer as he reaches that realization himself.”
— KIRKUS REVIEWS
“North of Hollywood is an often funny, sometimes gut wrenching, and immensely engaging true tale of one actor’s journey … If you want to believe happy endings are possible in real life, even when real life is show business, take a look at North of Hollywood.”
— TOMMY KENDRICK, ACTORS TALK podcast
“I greatly admire Rick Lenz’s thoughtful and well written book.”
— PETER BART, VARIETY
“An actor’s intimate, sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching, and always honest account of making a living while living next to Hollywood legends.”
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“North of Hollywood should be required reading for anyone who aspires to the acting life in New York and the City of Angels. Enchantingly written with a sure hand and a knowing eye, Rick Lenz reveals with enormous poignancy and gleeful insight what it has taken to make one real life work while pursuing the Hollywood dream.”
— ELIZABETH FORSYTHE HAILEY, NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author of A WOMAN OF INDEPENDENT MEANS
“North of Hollywood gave me more satisfaction than any celebrity memoir or Hollywood insider book I’ve ever read! Yes, as a pop-culture junkie I drooled over the movie and TV anecdotes, but the best parts, for me, are the introspective passages. Rick Lenz’s book reads like a nonfiction novel. It is, by turns, fall-on-the-floor funny and graveyard serious, a page-turner with a brain. This is an excitingly original book overflowing with lyrical power that I can’t compare to anything else I’ve ever read. His voice is endlessly thought provoking and entertaining. I LIKE THIS BOOK! in an over-the-top, Sally Field kinda way.
— KEVIN COOK, writer and editor