Book Review: Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne.

Two weeks ago I reviewed the lacklustre The Mansions of Limbo by Dominick Dunne. But as my favourite author, Dunne can do no wrong in my eyes. This time around, I’m reviewing the book that changed my life, Another City, Not My Own.

There’s nothing in particular that makes it a life changing book for probably anyone other than myself, but after I’d read it, there was no going back. I picked up the “novel in the form of a memoir” in mid 2009 after reading O.J. Simpson’s confessional, If I Did It. I had become fascinated and obsessed with the case, and Dunne’s commentary in the afterword was my first encounter with the famous name dropper.

I’m sure I Wikied him, as I do all new authors and books I come across to better familiarise myself with their writing and whether I want to commit to a book by them, and found out that Dunne was a Hollywood producer whose drug and alcohol fuelled lifestyle caused his wife to divorced him and the industry to shun him. Dunne became a recluse, penning his first New York Times Bestseller, The Winners, in a cabin in Oregon.

The murder of his daughter, Poltergeist star Dominique Dunne, and the subsequent “slap on the wrist” her killerand boyfriendreceived drew Dunne out of the woodwork and into the public glare once again. He became an advocate for victims rights and justice brought against rich and famous offenders, covering such high-profile cases as the trial of Claus von Bülow, charged with attempted murder as his estranged wife Sunny lay in a vegetative state after an alleged insulin overdose; Kennedy relatives Michael Skakel and William Kennedy Smith, serving time for the murder of teenage neighbour Martha Moxley (on which the 1993 novel, A Season in Purgatory, is based) and acquitted of rape charges, respectively; the Menedez murders; and, of course, the O.J. Simpson trial, for Vanity Fair. I could not get enough of his storied history and fascinating accounts of the dark side of Hollywood.

While I have only read a small sampling of Dunne’s published books, as they are quite hard to get a hold of, I just knew from the first self-deprecating paragraphs denouncing his credibility as a crime reporter and mention of the notorious footballer cum alleged murderer cum black hero O.J., as with all good books, that this was going to be one to remember.

Another City, Not My Own chronicles Dunne’s alter ego Gus Bailey’s return from New York back to the city that ruined his life, Los Angeles, for the murder trial of O.J. Simpson. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s fictionalised (Dunne’s real son Griffin is now Bailey’s son Grafton; A Season in Purgatory is the narrator’s book-turned-miniseries), and such famous names as Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, the Spellings, Michael Jackson and Heidi Fleiss make guest appearances, if only in the form of dinner table gossip fodder. In addition, the larger-than-life main players, O.J., Nicole Brown Simpson, the Goldman family, Kim, Khloe and Kourtney’s dead daddy Robert Kardashian, pool boy Kato Kaelin, racist cop Mark Furhman, Nicole’s drug addicted friend, Faye Resnick, and super-lawyers, prosecutor Marcia Clark, and the arrogant Johnnie Cochran for the defence, make Another City, Not My Own read like a salacious gossip mag or blockbuster movie.

This book boats a twist, turn and pop culture reference on every page, making your eyes race to keep up as your mind tries to savour the action, because once you’ve read the shock ending, which links to another high profile ’90s murder, there’s no going back.

Related: The Mansions of Limbo by Dominick Dunne Review.

Book Review: The Mansions of Limbo by Dominick Dunne

 

The author states in the introduction that the phrase “the mansions of limbo” came to him “years ago, reading a book whose title I no longer remember.”

If you are familiar with Dominick Dunne (if you’re familiar with this blog, you’re familiar with Dunne; he is my favourite author and I will jump at any chance to drop his name. Funnily enough, the subtitle of his memoir is Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper), you will know that he profiled the lifestyles of the rich and famous for twenty five years in Vanity Fair. But more interestingly, he focussed on the justice, or rather injustice, system in relation to celebrities, such as the Menendez brothers, O.J. Simpson and the murder of his daughter, Poltergeist star Dominique Dunne, in 1982.

His award-winning account of the murder of Jose and Kitty Menendez by their sons, Lyle and Erik Menendez, “Nightmare on Elm Drive” opens the tome, while Dunne’s majestic profile of Queen Noor al Hussein of Jordan wraps it up. In all honesty, as blasphemous as it is to say, those are probably the only two articles worth reading in this out-of-print collection. There is also a humorous write-up on the Collins sisters, Joan and Jackie, but the majority were written before I was born or in my early years of life, about subjects who have gone down in little-known infamy.

However, I do recommend Dunne’s work to anyone who will listen.

I first became familiar with him after reading the O.J. Simpson confessional If I Did It, which is well worth your money/library card. I then stumbled across his fictional account of the double murder, Another City, Not My Own which I can confidently say changed my life and immediately became my favourite book. (I will be posting a review here in the not-too-distant future; but don’t let last week’s negative Amazon reviews turn you off!)

Elsewhere: [Marie Claire] Dominick Dunne: Hollywood’s Diarist.

[Vanity Fair] Nightmare on Elm Drive.