Saturday, April 14, 2007

North of Sunset by Henry Baum (A)

North of SunsetNorth of Sunset
Henry Baum

L.A. was the easiest place in the world to get fucked if your face was recognizable. Maybe it was the easiest place to get fucked even if you weren't famous.

For him the Shiksa Goddess was the public, the strip malls, the American cars, proms, football, all the shit he hadn't known, secretly hated, and envied the way a depressive envied sanity.

With writing like this, one can't help but let oneself be carried along as the author unveils his story before us. This is powerful writing; Baum takes a no nonsense, in-your-face, gritty approach that is well-suited to his subject matter—Hollywood and the actors and players in it. If Hollywood could write, it would write like this.

The story begins with a summary of the life of actor Michael Sennet, his rise to the top of the Hollywood game, and, while such summary approach is often fatal in a book, Baum's writing manages to carry off the feat of making us keep reading. Surely, this Sennet, this demigod of Hollywood, is in for a fall of some sort or another. What else is there for a man who's had the best of everything--fame, women, and money? His troubles being slowly; first, his producer refuses to let him direct, then a scumbag paparazzi tries to extort a cool four million from him.

Sennet isn't the only character that's well developed and interesting in this novel. There's also Curt Knudsen, the serial killer terrorizing Los Angeles. The lives of the killer and the mega star soon converge as bored Sennet decides to deal with his troubles by taking on the role of the Vanity Plate killer, intruding on the turf and twisted dreams of fame of one Curt Knudsen.

The plot of the novel evolves organically out of the personalities, desires, and fantasies of the characters. The twists and turns of plot create genuine suspense and interest as we watch the characters evolve and change, because of their interactions with one another, wondering how each, a product of the weird place that is Hollywood, will end up as a result of crossing paths. The ending, when it comes, is earned, evolving out of the place and the people who live in it; it is an ending that can only happen in that fantasy world known as Hollywood.

Author's Website

1 comment:

Henry Baum said...

Thanks a lot for this. I’ve gotten some compliments on the cover, but yeah, if I had more time or money I might have done something else. Glad that you liked the book.