Star Trap

Brett, Simon. Star Trap. Boston: G.K Hall & Co., 1999.

Something is going on with the musical production of Lumpkin! They have barely started rehearsals when things start to go wrong. The rehearsal pianist has a shooting accident and can’t play the piano. Then a main actor literally breaks a leg. Both of these incidents happen within the same week. Is it a coincidence? Actor/amateur detective Charles Paris is hired to find out. He conveniently takes the part left vacant by the actor with the broken leg so that he is able to get up close and personal to the drama (pun totally intended). Only, Charles shrugs off the rumors of sabotage as mere coincidences until he is directly affected. As soon as he opens his eyes to the possibility of sabatoge he starts noticing strange things really are happening – deliberately. Will he find out before opening night or will he be cut out of the script before the mystery is solved?

Be forewarned: Brett introduces a lot of names in the first few chapters (21 people and 14 places and 6 plays, television shows and/or songs). There’s a lot to take in and at first it is hard to decide which names, places and productions are really important.

Post script: somehow I ordered the large print version. This is funny because I was just told last month I should purchase “readers” (although my husband calls them “cheaters”). My optometrist assures me I don’t really need them yet. Riiight.

Quotes I like, “…he felt in need of a red-hot poker to burn out the rotten bits of his brain” (p 74) and “Charles felt a great swoop of despair, as if all of his worst opinions of himself were suddenly ratified, as if his thoughts that infected him at his lowest moods had suddenly been classified as gospel” (p 96).

Reason read: Brett’s birthday is in October

Author fact: Simon Brett has his own website. His biography page is really fun.

Book trivia: Charles Paris is a reoccurring character in Brett’s books. As far as I can tell you don’t need to read them in order of publication.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “I Love A Mystery” (p 118).

Crazy in Alabama

Childress, Mark. Crazy in Alabama. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993.

Talk about crazy! This book drove me there! I called Made in America a book of multiple personalities. If that’s the case, Crazy in Alabama is a book of split personalities. Set in the 1960s, one half of the narration is dedicated to Lucille’s escapades in California. She’s seeking fame and fortune as a wannabe actress while on the run from the law with her husband’s decapitated head in a Tupperware container. The other half of the narration is from the perspective of Lucille’s nephew Peter Joseph (Peejoe). He’s in racially torn Alabama witnessing violence and civil unrest at its worst. While Lucille’s side of the story is insanely surreal, Peejoe’s is intensely serious. The disconnect between the two voices created a divide almost too big to ignore. Luckily, Childress pulls them together and makes the entire plot work…somehow.

Favorite lines: “She would miss her children but she had Chester’s head to keep her company” (p 37). Of course! Another favorite line, “My eye was the price I’d had to pay for seeing too much” (p 229). See the difference between Lucille and Peejoe’s worlds?

Author Fact: Mark Childress is also the author of three picture books for children.

Book Trivia: Crazy in Alabama was made into a movie starring Melanie Griffith in 1999. Haven’t seen it.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called Southern-Fried Fiction: Alabama (p 207).

Company of Three

O’Connor, Varley. Company of Three. Chapel hill: Algonquin Books, 2003.

There is mystery that surrounds Company of Three. At face value it is the story of three actors struggling to see their name in lights on Broadway. New york City in the 1970s is a hub for creative activity such as dance and the theater and Robert, Patrick and Irene stand in the spotlight, ready as ever for their close ups. Company of Three follows their successes, their failures, their struggles. It examines their friendships and love affairs and what they mean to one another. Ultimately, it is the story of how far they would go for their careers and for each other.

In truth, it is that friendship that has me scratching my head. At one point in the story the three friends vow to always be there for one another and someday run a theater together. They even seal the deal in blood. Yet, despite their close bond and the pact they have made, Patrick keeps some very dark secrets from his friends. Curiously, he lies continuously so his connection to Robert and Irene is questionable.

Best quote (and why I think people take up acting): “Acting was not the departure from myself that I thought it would be, but rather a journey into the very parts of myself I thought I would rescue me from” (p 57).

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “All the World’s a Stage” (p 7).