Books: Oedipus Wrecks

A hilarious family horror story, Hollywood style

The Chrysanthemum Palace (Simon & Schuster; 210 pages) is Bruce Wagner's fifth satirical novel and his fifth set among the moguls and movie stars of Hollywood. Which makes you wonder whether there's really any muck left in Hollywood for him to rake. Hasn't he already scorched all the earth, dug up all the bodies, skewered all the foibles there are to skewer?

The novel is narrated by Bertie Krohn, a frustrated actor languishing in the shadow of his famous father Perry, who created Starwatch: The Navigators, "TV's longest-running syndicated space opera," i.e., Star Trek by any other name. Bertie's a bright,...