THE IMAGES OF two birds adorn the cover of Geoff Nicholson's fourteenth novel: the head of a dodo and the torso of a babe with casabas like cannon balls. Extinction, Nicholson's characteristically cunning narrative reminds us, awaits both varieties of beauty. Dodos drop dead, dumplings droop downward. Only art, by stabilising and concretising even the most labile of ephemera, can make a stab at transcending the depredations of time. As Nicholson's porno-picture producer Jack Rozin puts it: 'Smut [is] a memento mori, but I think that's what all movies are when you get right down to it.'
The Hollywood Dodo is a triple-decker novel. As with Nicholson's masterpiece, Bleeding London, its three narratives spiral around each other before commingling in a convoluted closure. Alternate chapters are narrated by Rick McCartney, an aspirant screenwriter, and Dr Henry Cadwallader, a middle-aged medic accompanying his would-be starlet daughter, Dorothy, to