Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley Faber & Faber, HK$128 Jane Smiley has written many fine novels: the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres (King Lear re-imagined in Iowa) and Moo, a deft campus satire. Ten Days in the Hills, in which she turns her prodigious talents to a Hollywood milieu, is almost as good as both - but not quite. It is a week after the US forces invaded Iraq in 2003, but for the self-obsessed characters staying at Max's hillside mansion, the only event of note is the previous day's Oscar ceremony. Max is a fiftysomething writer-director, who won his own Academy Award in 1976. Somewhat past it, he has a 'sort of fame'. Max and his wife Elena (author of self-help books like Here's How to Do EVERYTHING Correctly!) have invited a bunch of self-regarding swells to mingle within the glittering surfaces of their Hollywood home: Max's agent, Stoney Whipple; Max's ex-wife, Zoe, who is dating a healer; and Max's daughter, Isabel, who is having an affair with Max's agent, Stoney. It's all Max, Max, Max - turned up to the max. The danger of satirising aimless vapidity is in becoming aimlessly vapid yourself. And while Smiley is far too good for that, there are moments in her meandering narrative when I wonder what Jackie Collins would do with it all.