Hollywood Park
Title: Hollywood Park
Author: Mikel Jollett
Publisher: Celadon Books
ISBN: 978-1-250-62156-6
On Sale Date: 5/05/2020
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Hollywood Park is a remarkable memoir of a tumultuous life. Mikel Jollett was born into one of the country’s most infamous cults, and subjected to a childhood filled with poverty, addiction, and emotional abuse. Yet, ultimately, his is a story of fierce love and family loyalty told in a raw, poetic voice that signals the emergence of a uniquely gifted writer.

We were never young. We were just too afraid of ourselves. No one told us who we were or what we were or where all our parents went. They would arrive like ghosts, visiting us for a morning, an afternoon. They would sit with us or walk around the grounds, to laugh or cry or toss us in the air while we screamed. Then they’d disappear again, for weeks, for months, for years, leaving us alone with our memories and dreams, our questions and confusion. …

So begins Hollywood Park, Mikel Jollett’s remarkable memoir. His story opens in an experimental commune in California, which later morphed into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children, including Jollett and his older brother, were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. But in many ways, life outside Synanon was even harder and more erratic.

In his raw, poetic and powerful voice, Jollett portrays a childhood filled with abject poverty, trauma, emotional abuse, delinquency and the lure of drugs and alcohol. Raised by a clinically depressed mother, tormented by his angry older brother, subjected to the unpredictability of troubled step-fathers and longing for contact with his father, a former heroin addict and ex-con, Jollett slowly, often painfully, builds a life that leads him to Stanford University and, eventually, to finding his voice as a writer and musician.

Hollywood Park is told at first through the limited perspective of a child, and then broadens as Jollett begins to understand the world around him. Although Mikel Jollett’s story is filled with heartbreak, it is ultimately an unforgettable portrayal of love at its fiercest and most loyal.

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Mikel Jollett Book Tour

Los Angeles, CA
May 1, 2020
First Congregational Church of Los Angeles

San Francisco, CA
May 2, 2020
First Unitarian Society of San Francisco

Brooklyn, NY
May 4, 2020
St. Joseph’s College

New York, NY
May 5, 2020
The Strand

Washington, DC
May 6, 2020
GW Betts

Providence, RI
May 7, 2020
Columbus Theatre

Boston, MA
May 8, 2020

Austin, TX
May 9, 2020
Book People

Chicago, IL
May 11, 2020
Wilson’s Abbey

Denver, CO
May 12, 2020
Tattered Cover

Seattle, WA
May 18, 2020
Town Hall


  • Mikel Jollett’s gripping memoir starts with a harrowing escape from a cult where he was raised without parents, only to be thrown into a more chaotic world where he’s raised by them. With a childhood defined by neglect, poverty and uncertainty, Jollett’s story serves as a potent reminder that while we cannot change the hand we're dealt, our freedom lies in what we choose to do with those cards. Hollywood Park is an illuminating and redemptive account of one man’s search for meaning, family, and love.

    Adrienne Brodeur Author of Wild Game
  • Violent and tender and incandescent, Hollywood Park is as touching as it is shocking. Jollett deftly dissects his struggle to unburden himself of the damage he inherited from his broken family, with insights that are brutally honest and psychologically astute. It tore me apart.

    Janelle Brown New York Times bestselling author of Watch Me Disappear and Pretty Things
  • This is a memoir, but it’s also a song—a lyrical labyrinth that weaves and mesmerizes, all the while proving there’s nothing more dangerous or powerful than a parent’s love. Hollywood Park is a magical debut. Loved it.

    Brad Meltzer #1 New York Times Bestselling author of The Escape Artist
  • Hollywood Park is the often heartbreaking, always honest story of a confused boy struggling to make sense of a crazy world. It’s filled with pain, poverty, and violence but also with fierce love, rock and roll, and unexpected triumphs.

    Darin Strauss NBCC-winning author of Half a Life
  • Hollywood Park is full of moving portraits of Jollett’s brother, his father, and his band of contemporaries. To read these pages is to love them right along with him.

    Sean Wilsey Author of Oh the Glory of It All
  • Mikel Jollett

    Mikel Jollett is the frontman of the indie band The Airborne Toxic Event. Prior to forming the band, Jollett graduated with honors from Stanford University. He was an on-air columnist for NPR’s All Things Considered, an editor-at-large for Men’s Health and an editor at Filter magazine. His fiction has been published in McSweeney’s.