Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Theodore Roszak
paperback 2005

'A sprawling novel that comprises, among other things, a magical mystery tour of the history of cinema, an acid satire on Hollywood and what passes for today's cultural avant-garde, a metaphysical puzzle, an exploration of the psychological impact of films and a parable about the modern spiritual wasteland. UCLA film scholar and critic Jonathan Gates becomes obsessed with legendary German expressionist filmmaker Max Castle, who went to Hollywood in the mid-1920s and whose vampire and ghoul B-movies are viewed by cult fans as deeply troubling evocations of evil. On the trail of Castle's dark past, Gates and his ex-girlfriend, tough-minded film critic Clare Swann (a thinly disguised Pauline Kael), encounter medieval gnostic heresies, secret societies, Orson Welles, a teenage genius albino movie producer and an aged Dutch ex-vamp who practices tantric-like sex.'

Described elsewhere as Sunset Boulevard meets The Name of the Rose (and I would offer Ragtime as well). Without a doubt, perhaps the best work of contemporary fiction to date on the art, history and lure of the movies. Required reading for all film buffs and film-makers.

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