Golden State by David Prybil
Golden State is David Prybil’s debut novel, released in the fall of last year. It takes place between the years of 2003-2006, in the Golden State of California.
Within five sections, the book interweaves chapters written from the perspective of four different people: Spencer, Missy, Todd and Rowena. All four characters are living in Sacramento. This state capital becomes the backdrop of not just these individual stories, but of a recent political election in 2003 in which Gray Davis was recalled as governor, allowing faces from the Hollywood vault to once again enter the media spotlight in hopes of replacing him. These faces include (in the book and in real life), Gary Coleman (actor), Mary Carey (porn star), Larry Flynt (publisher) and more. Chief among the contestants however, and most expected to win, is movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“On Monday, November 17, 2003 at 11 a.m., Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as the thirty-eighth governor of the great state of California. Vanessa Williams, Arnold’s sexy co-star from the hit action movie Eraser, kicked things off by singing the National Anthem, providing the touch of Hollywood showmanship that Todd knew Arnold just couldn’t resist. State Supreme Court Justice Ronald George then administered the oath of office, as Arnold placed his meaty paw on an old King James Bible, the same one used for Reagan’s swearing-in, this time held by his own beaming wife, Maria Shriver… With a sprinkling of celebrities in attendance, like Danny De Vito, Tom Arnold, and Rob Lowe, as well as a number of toothy Kennedy in-laws from back east, it was the first view of the “New Camelot” Todd had been so eagerly anticipating.”
At times Golden State is a bit slow-paced and predictable, but at least in the beef of the book (the middle), it surprisingly picks up and offers a few dearly genuine laughs. Readers truly feel like they know Spencer, Todd, Rowena and Missy, or at the very least readers know people like them.
I also enjoyed the book being divided into five sections- the last section befittingly titled “Total Recall”- which made it easier to follow. The only aspect I was waiting for till the end was whether or not Prybil was going to interject a chapter written from Arnold’s perspective- which he didn’t- but this didn’t take away from the story at all.
Overall, a well-written and informative novel that subtly reflects how politics are just another cog in the media machine, whether or not a movie star is at the helm. And considering the current state of the world, not to mention the recent Arnold love-affair fiasco, readers should have no problem grasping what the American Dream now equates to in the eyes of middle-class America.