Details Magazine, 1990

By: Holly Pollard

There’s a rule that says people who care about literature don’t care about Hollywood and that people who care about Hollywood don’t care about literature. Mark Lindquist’s smart new novel “Carnival Desires” will change this.

This compelling opus is not really about Hollywood, but about an engaging group of friends in their twenties, some of whom happen to make their living from the business of moviemaking. The characters and situations are drawn with edgy accuracy, but the novel transcends its own keen realism and becomes great postmodern literature. Romantic and cynical, true and original, full of modern ideas and seductive moments, “Carnival Desires” will appeal to anyone who has once felt about both their bad and good friends, “Something strong was shared once and this matters.”

This is the first literary Los Angeles novel I’ve loved since Joan Didion’s “Play It As It Lays” and is as of its time as such classics as “Day of the Locust” and “The Last Tycoon.” So what better place to meet the author than the quintessentially LA Ivy at the Shore. It’s a sunny day, of course, and we have a great view of the Santa Monica Pier. He is wearing his usual blue blazer, Levi’s, white shirt and tie.

“Why do you write?” I ask.


“Never mind.”

The dialogue in “Carnival Desires” — and there’s a lot of it — is often witty and always true. Lindquist’s ear for the way people talk and what they really mean, combined with his talent for characterization, have made screenwriting work readily available to him. He has written or rewritten scripts for several studios.

“Most novelists these days either have to teach English or write for the movies,” he said. “And I like the movies.”

He orders swordfish for lunch. Lindquist is fond of fish. He recently moved from Venice to his sportsfishing yacht in Marina del Rey. “It’s as far out of LA as I could get while still being in LA,” he explained.

A couple years ago, Lindquist chronicled LA’s underground club scene for the Sunday New York Times Magazine, using a riff, “nine of us take seven cars” and “seven of us take six cars,” and so on. In “Carnival Desires” cars serve him again as symbols for the kinetic LA lifestyle. But he claims he doesn’t go out now as much as he used to. “I work for a living,” he says.

“Carnival Desires” is coming out in hardback and I asked Lindquist if he thought people would pay almost twenty dollars for it, as opposed to the seven or so dollars for a trade paperback.

“I don’t know,” he answered, “but I’d like to say that the Replacements are the best band in America.”