Holy Wood (novel)
|Written by Marilyn Manson
Holy Wood is a fictional novel by Marilyn Manson, written between 1999 and 2000 (although Manson has claimed to have been writing certain selections since 1995). Initially envisioned as a companion piece to the album Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), it remains currently unreleased after a series of delays, widely believed to be the result of publishing problems.
Manson refers to the currently unreleased Holy Wood as "a fiction novel, most likely comparable with something like A Clockwork Orange. The story lines are not similar in any way, but it's a social commentary and it takes place in a fictional time that's neither the past nor the present. It deals with all the subjects that Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) focuses upon: the value of children, politics and religion, violence as entertainment. I'm sure it will be greeted with great controversy and hatred, and I'm sure someone will read it and want to make it into a film. But my original idea of making it into a film the way I wanted to would never be possible. It would never be shown in a theatre; the images are far too grand, elaborate and violent."
Describing the plot of the novel itself Manson said: "The whole story, if you take it from the beginning, is parallel to my own, but just told in metaphors and different symbols that I thought other people could draw from. It's about being innocent and naive, much like Adam was in Paradise before they fall from grace. And seeing something like Hollywood, which I used as a metaphor to represent what people think is the perfect world, and it's about wanting — your whole life — to fit into this world that doesn't think you belong, that doesn't like you, that beats you down every step of the way, fighting and fighting and fighting, and finally getting there, everyone around you are the same people who kept you down in the first place. So you automatically hate everyone around you. You resent them for making you become part of this game you don't realize you were buying into. You trade one prison cell for another in some ways. That becomes the revolution, to be idealistic enough that you think you can change the world, and what you find is you can't change anything but yourself."
Manson has also stated that there is a character "that's very much a take on Walt Disney," who was a big inspiration in the writing of both the book and its accompanying album. In describing the setting, he compared Holy Wood, the place, to Disneyworld: "I thought of how interesting it would be if we created an entire city that was an amusement park, and the thing we were being amused by was violence and sex and everything that people really want to see."
In early June 1999 Manson stated at the MTV Movie Awards that he was currently writing a film script but refused to be drawn into discussion over its contents. By the next month however it became known that New Line Cinema had approved Holy Wood and that Manson was writing the script (which had derived from the novel he wrote during a three month absence from public life after Columbine) with the help of writer Robert Pargi. Central to the idea was a starring role for Manson's then-fiancée Rose McGowan.
By early 2000 however the project was postponed as Manson feared the film had been tweaked in ways that would have ruined his artistic vision of the movie. Plans were made to first release the album in the autumn and to follow it in 2001 with the novel which Manson called 'graphic' and 'phantasmagoric’, stemming back to an idea he first began to draft in 1995. The third and final part of the plan was a coffee table book of images related to the novel and the album by Manson and longtime art collaborator P. R. Brown.
Asked in late 2000 about the project Manson said:
- "The film I'm not sure about. It's something that I might do on my terms, but recently I've been talking and thinking about making it into an animated feature because the character in the story is based as a metaphor on me, but it's a quite young character and it's not something that I would be able or really want to portray as an actor; but the book will be out at the beginning of the year and it's also called Holy Wood... It would have to be unrated and that was one of the greatest problems because it's a very elaborate and imaginative world that I sort of created, so the budget I'm sure would be very excessive and movie companies aren't really willing to spend that much money on something that will be unrated because it wouldn't be shown in America – it would probably be banned – or limited to just small places, so I want to make it something that I can proud of and I'm going to wait until I can do it on my terms."
Though in spring 2002 Manson began to again mention the novel in various online journal posts; a release date had been set and that the delay was allegedly due to a certain religion's "way". Many assumed this to be about Christianity but in an interview with The Official PlayStation Magazine to promote his appearance as Edgar in Area 51, and other later statements, it became clear the objection most likely originated from the Church of Scientology as Manson, who has previously attended meetings but was unimpressed, had drawn upon the story of Jack Parsons and the biography Sex and Rockets for the book.
A March 13, 2003 post made by Marilyn Manson on The Oracle section of MarilynManson.com explained, "The book has been written for over 3 years, but the censorship of certain ideas, ideals and opinions has kept me from releasing it to the public. I'm sorry I can't say more, but there is a religious objection to its release because the story's inspiration was not only my own life (the three albums included) but also some "private" documents I discovered. This is a deep and dark road, and I haven't found the off-ramp."
Manson commented on the novel in November 2005:
- "I think it was not the appropriate time for it to emerge because it was about everything that was happening, and there was no way people would ever be able to get the point of it when they were so wrapped up in everything I was trying to say. They would ultimately prove the point of the book, but that would not accomplish much except for me having the satisfaction of knowing I was right in my observations.
- I think that there's a place for the story that exists maybe in the world of narrative video games or a graphic novel – a place where you can be experimental and immerse yourself more into the story. The story was more about me initially, in a sense, and I think it needs to be about everyone else for it to have the value that it deserves. It was a matter of me just letting it sit. It represents a difficult part of my life, so part of me wants to not deal with it; but when I go back and I read it I find myself proud of what it does. I want it to exist in a place that makes a point, and it may be ironic, too. Video games, being a metaphor or a modern scapegoat for violence, play very much into what the story is about. There will be a home for it very soon, but I can't say for sure which one it will be. I'm just trying to find where it fits best."
Manson mentioned the novel again in an interview with Bizzare Magazine dated 5 May 2012:
- "... I'd written a script and then what became a novel called Holy Wood, which was attached to my record. I went back and read it after 10 years, and found a new faith in what I'd written. It's much more applicable to my personality now, and the environment we live in. It got better with age. So people can expect that to emerge. It won't be in the form of the name Holy Wood, although the city of Holy Wood is the main element in the story. That's a sardonic interpretation where I live."
On August 22, 2014, Kurt Sutter held a live chat that featured Manson via Skype. When a viewer asked if the Holy Wood novel will ever be released, Manson said that he would like to do a video mini-series following the story of the book. A release date has not been set.
In 2015, during an AMA, Manson was asked if he was planning to either release Holy Wood or writing another book. His answer was "both".
During an interview released on January 28th, 2018 but recorded near the end of 2017 recently after Manson had broken his leg, Manson said in an interview that he was planning to do something with the novel in the coming years:
- "My Holy Wood novel that I wrote that I plan on doing something with finally this year or next year rather because its the end of this year."
Excerpt from Chapter 10
ThisAsValentinesDay.com was revealed on February 14th, 2001 by Marilyn Manson in a post to the BBS he made while on tour with the heading of "They'd Remember 'This As Valentine's Day'". The central images were the cover of Time magazine with the date of February 14th, 1964. By clicking on Marina Oswald's broach, widow of the late Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused lone gunman in Kennedy's assassination, revealed the true Valentine's Day gift from Manson to his fans, the text of Chapter 10 of Manson's novel Holy Wood.
It wasn't very difficult for Coma to find Adam's file that week. The casting storage room was like a mausoleum of never-to-bes and never-to-knows. The walls were lined with dusty stacks of half inch reel boxes filed by cut-out Polaroid faces on the bindings and larger b/w head shots on the lids. They were all marked REJECT AND HOLD. Everyone ended up here expecting to make it somewhere more special someday. No one ever did. Adam has no idea that as he sits in the torn remains of his trailer inappropriately dressed for Celebritarian purposes, Coma White is staring at his photo and listening to the sterile rendition of the song he wrote right here for her. It was only *happy* that her birthday meant that she was finally a legal Grey and free from this home. Even though she is incredibly smart, her idealism betrays her into thinking she would actually be allowed to leave here in any other way than a body bag. Outside her window, klieg lights and a red carpet draw crowds of celebrating birthday mongers and the long legs of paparazzi, climbing over one another for a shot of drama. FLASH! Something shifts now like a cheap film flashback. The sound is reduced to the dubbed down rattle of a projector's plastic speaker. The voices sneak out through tiny holes from the past and Coma is just a little girl crying into the camera's P.O.V. It is the President's Bell and Howard Zoomatic, and although a fine photographic instrument it provides a somewhat grainy resolution. Her tiny, nine-year-old body is drowning in a white gown and an over sized platinum blonde wig as she is dressed like a kiddy-porn Marilyn Monroe. The handle-held cinematography is nauseating at times as the beautiful little girl dances like an adult. "Sing," a voice off camera coaches her. "Sing for daddy." Her eyes are black waterfalls of mascara and her tiny nose drips down onto her her red smeared lips as she sings. "Happy birthday, Mr. President." "The gun, baby." He whispers. The camera focus is disturbed and the sound of Mr. White's pants unzipping becomes quite clear, although it's hard to tell now if it's on the projection or in the room this very moment. The sound of her voice struggles to stay in sync with the image. On the large screen in the President's private library, young Coma fellates the barrel of a shiny chrome revolver, gagging between syllables of Ha-ppy-Bir-day-to... The light from the projection reveals walls of film canisters where books might normally be. The President pinches a cigarette in one hand and his other has disappeared into the expensive cloth of his pants. Through a crack in the door Mrs. White watches jealousy. Her reddened eyes seem more inclined to violence then self-pity though. This seems to be a scene she has stumbled upon in one form or another for the last time. She turns away from the library and desperately searches her reflection in the halfway mirror for wrinkles or flaws. The 'mirror' is actually a video monitor in a frame that provides one with a more accurate assessment of one's looks, particularly on TV where it matters most. Mrs. White is no longer the fairest of them all. She grabs the phone sitting on the small stand beneath the TV monitor. "I need Child Safety here now! Do you hear me?" The voice on the other line responds calmly, "Mrs. White with all do respect, we've been through this several times before. The President has sole authority over Coma and--" She throws the phone against the wall and and runs to her room. Halfway down the hall she twists her ankle and splinters one of her high heels. This only makes her more determined. In the Presidential suite there are seperate beds on either side of the room. On the wall between them hangs a pristine lithograph of the same Family portrait Adam has hanging in his trailer. Mrs. White nervously reaches into her night stand. There is a Bible amidst thousands of pills resting peacefully in thin orange child-proof cylindrical coffins. She considers how sweet it must be to be as a pill, to live in such empty solitude. Sleeping softly, waiting one day to be swallowed and then digested in burning stomach acids eating you away into nothing. She reaches for the bible instead, after all it is meant to answer any question and to solve any problem. She pulls it open and inside it is merely a hollow case containing a large black revolver. This is not a ritual handgun. This is simply used for killing. She picks it up with both hands and sits on the edge of her bed crying. * Coma's bandaged arm reaches to rewind the reel of Adam's song once again. ADAM. She reads the name. This makes him real to her. The music is crude but makes her feel not so alone. If there were scientists to provide a logical explanation, they might say it contained the 'golden means' through with the human brain is satisfied, creating a feeling of completeness. To Coma it just sounded like someone who might be able to see this world like she did. It drowns out the "Happy Birthday, Coma!" chants from outside her window. Her door is suddenly kicked in with half-assed drunken force and the President leans against the frame for support. He leers at Coma incoherently with a birthday cake in one hand. The candles make ugly shadows across his face. Coma tries to hide Adam's box and the music but her nightgown just comes open in the process. "What's that playing? That's not my song..." He loses his frame of thought for a moment staring at her pale exposed belly and thighs. "Are you too big to love daddy, now? You're all grown up my little princesss...let me see." He stumbles toward her and with his free hand begins to grope her breasts. She resists, for what seems like the first time, and rips open his silk shirt. What she sees beneath is more disgusting than his pathetic molestation. His almost translucent skin is varicose and wrinkled. On his shoulders and chest he wears prosthetic pads that are snapped onto his skin with tiny stainless steel fasteners to augment his youthful, healthy shape. The material his fake muscles are made of looks wet and gelatinous like raw chicken meat. He is too drunk to be embarrassed, so he tears away the rest of his clothes stumbling toward her with some sort of elastic garter that holds his veiny erection upright. The cake with her face painted on it, smears down his leg onto the floor. "Daddy, loves you. You know that's why we have to do this." As he reaches for her arm, she pulls away and grabs a six inch tall marble statue of her father from her desk. With all her strength and eighteen years of resentment she smashes his across the forehead with it, breaking the statue and splitting open a large horizontal gash above his brow. He falls, bleeding and covered in cake. The gaping wound seems to frown above his closed eyes. She drops the statue, even though she knows he's still alive. * In the hallway to Coma's bedroom Mrs. White walks slowly and decisively choking back her tears with one manicured hand, carrying the black pistol in the other. When she pokes open the door with the barrel of the gun, she sees her husband sobbing pathetically. He is clutching Coma's torn nightgown and his atrophied torso is covered in his own drying brown blood. The white sheets of her bed have caught fire from the spilled candles and the bed has begun to burn behind him. The bedroom draperies flutter from an open window. Coma is gone. It's quite obvious to Mrs. White what has happened as she enters the room. She grabs the gun with both shaky hands and points it at her husband. "Who's going to get it up for you now?" She shrieks, looking at his still hard phallus, pinched off with a strap like a tourniquet. It twitches grotesquely in time with the short burst of blood that pulse from his head wound. "Don't come crawling to me. I married a goddamn star! Look at you now. You're just a shell. I wasted myself on you." "Go ahead and shoot me," he taunts her, still sobbing. "I want you to. Then where would you be?" His crying is now a disgusted laughter. "You'd be nothing. You're old and worn out. You're ugly and it makes me feel dead just being near you. So do it!" She is shaking more now and her strand of confidence is snapping. She starts crying weakly and he laughs at her, wiping the blood and tears out of his eyes. "You're nothing, now you'll be less than nothing. Back to the ghetto for poor trash like you." She stops the sound coming from her mouth abruptly with this realization. She opens her chapped, red lips into the shape of an 'o' and sticks the barrel in her mouth. "You'll be worthless in hell too." She pulls the trigger and fires. Her head explodes onto the perfect white walls. If the President had a frame of reference he would consider her blood splatter to be completely artless even by Jackson Pollack's standards. Westmoreland and a few other secret service men arrive shortly after the gunfire. He seems more panicked than usual considering he has a neurotic personality to begin with. Valentine has accused him of being a homosexual but likes keeping him in charge because he's easy to push around. Today is no exception. When Valentine arrives seconds later, he shoves Westmoreland out of the way and start ascertaining the situation. Valentine and Westmoreland ignore the fire and Mrs. White's corpse--the other mindless suits handle that--and they go directly to Coma's desk. Adam's reel is still spinning, although the tape has run out. Valentine notices the face on the box but doesn't bother to fill in his questionably gay counterpart out of sheer disrespect and possible plans for manipulation that could always arise for his own benefit. He stops the tape and puts it back in the box. "What's the story here?" Westmoreland asks. He's not exactly stupid but not nearly as attentive as Valentine. "Looks like daddy's little girl is taking this rebellion bullshit a little too far. How the fuck did she get this?" He shoves it in Westmoreland's face. "That's your job--security, you idiot. We don't need people hearing this. We give them one song. One leader. One path--Obey and consume." Westmoreland looks over at the faceless body and the smoldering bed. "Well, what do we do about her?" "Simple. Rebellious punk. Listening to some--what is this shit--some teenage music. She gets all fucked up over it." he's exaggeration, almost performing as he says this. "Kills mommy and runs away. Perfect. Classic even." "I'll find this one." Westmoreland says, grabbing the tape. "Let me keep this for now." Valentine doesn't give it up. "Go do whatever you do." Valentine walks over to the President and cleans him up like a baby with one of Coma's pink monogrammed towels. "Listen, your rating's always go up during a punk panic. Play the grieving widower. Grief is good, they love grief." He gives the President a pill. "Leave this to me. I'll get you a new daughter, the co-star you deserve." "A pretty one?" he asks childishly. The next day Mrs. White's funeral is held on a renovated motion picture lot still equipped with essential sound and lighting effects required for such a tragedy-inspiring media drama. This place is called the Holy Wood Memorial Cemetary and everyone is in attendance. The President wears his best mask of grief--Academy Award winning, in fact. He even adds a drop of glycerin to his eye before his eulogy. The best make-up artists available concealed his gash perfectly but a few more hours in the sun and it will get as the Gaelic say "Kennedy," which means, of course, ugly or wounded head. Valentine cues, Infanta, the President's new daughter and she gives her best 9 year old salute as Mrs. White's coffin is lowered into an ersatz earth soundstage. After the ceremony, Valentine approaches the President. Grief, everyone. Despair. Flash. "We're going to need him to really take care of this little Coma situation." Valentine says matter-of-factly. "Bomface?" Valentine nods. "He's such a fucking zealot. Do we have to resort to that?" "That's just it. Religion is the best way to make people hate. And hate is what we need." Valentine makes sure no one is looking and grins, patting the President on the back. "Hate sells."
- According to Alejandro Jodorowsky, Manson still wishes to adapt the concept to film, but a major stumbling block is that the film will cost at least $20,000,000 as opposed to the much more modestly budgeted Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll ($4,200,000).
- Chuck Palahniuk has read the novel and describes it as "a magical, surreal, poetic story, crammed with detail and cut loose from traditional boring fiction," in his book Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories.
- Marilyn Manson – author
- Chuck Palahniuk – authorial assistant