Joseph Edwin Haeger reviews Little Hollywood by Jinnwoo. (11:11 Press)
Little Hollywood by Jinnwoo is unlike anything I’ve ever read, and I love it because of that. I tend to be intrigued by the experimental, but then the traditionalist buried deep inside me tends to rear up and reject things when they become overly complicated. I don’t know if this is laziness or moments of my own failing to fully comprehend the content, but either way, I find myself continually looking for works that are odd or working on a different level. When I started reading Little Hollywood, that little voice in my head started whispering, What the hell is this? But it didn’t take long for Jinnwoo to win me over.
Little Hollywood is built of short scenes, written as scripts, that are supposed to act as the starting point for an audition. Are we auditioning? No, the illustrated paper people cutouts are meant to be our actors. I chose not to chop the hell out of my copy, but if you wanted to, you could cut out these people and clip them together to create the people who are the focal points of each scene. This engages the reader and provides a tactile and interactive way to read this book—and if you’re mixing and matching these characters you could alter the underlying meaning behind each scene. Even thinking back on it, Little Hollywood is a goddamn delight.
When I started reading Little Hollywood, that little voice in my head started whispering, What the hell is this? But it didn’t take long for Jinnwoo to win me over.
This book is getting at the idea of fabricated connections. Each relationship explored in Little Hollywood is done so under the guise of the scripts the actors are supposed to be auditioning with. These paper people are meant to represent the actors reading these lines, which further puts a focus on each situation being staged. None of these circumstances are real. It made me think of the idea that we’re all our own main characters walking around our own specific movies. We’re always the good guy and we always have the focus on our life and its arc. This isn’t a new thought, of course, but the way Jinnwoo presents this collection is wholly original.
This is like a collection of flash pieces. Each script stands on its own, but when they’re woven together, they unlock the themes and larger ideas Jinnwoo is getting at. The scenes feel stunted in a way, but I think it’s purposeful because it further reinforces the idea of imagined connections. While I read this book, I kept thinking about the quote from The Rules of Attraction: “No one will ever know anyone. We just have to deal with each other. You’re not ever gonna know me.” In real life, we continually find ourselves in situations that are meant to be filtered through our own perceptions and experiences and will supposedly bring us closer to a bigger truth, but we don’t see the world the same. We’re all reaching out for an eternity, but never fully connecting with anyone else. If I follow this line of thinking too far, it gets relatively pessimistic, but considering this angle for Little Hollywood makes it an even more fascinating piece of art.
The combination of these engaging and stark scenes with the illustrated characters makes for a compelling book. Little Hollywood is an odd take on emotional connections, but I think Jinnwoo’s approach speaks to human nature more accurately than most works that are heralded for their trueness to life. This is a book I can see myself pulling off the shelf, flipping to any scene to quickly read it, and then carefully placing the book back on the shelf. I’ll be repeating this act again and again, never tiring of it.