"Blues in the Dark" by Raymond Benson. AP
A movie producer who moves to Los Angeles and stumbles upon a story sparks Raymond Benson's look at a turbulent Hollywood of the 1940s with ramifications in the present in "Blues in the Dark."
Karissa Glover has just arrived in Los Angeles when she learns of a can't-miss deal on an old mansion that hasn't been lived in since the murder of movie starlet Blair Kendrick in the late 1940s. She barely moves in when she realizes that Kendrick's story needs to be told, so she works with her producing partner to create a film telling the world about this femme fatale who has largely been forgotten.
The chapters alternate between Glover following the path of Kendrick's life when she arrived in Hollywood and the finished film taking the reader into the 1940s. Benson outlines a world of prejudice where women who wanted to become stars were expected to sleep with producers and movie studio executives.
Kendrick wanted to see her name in lights, and when she's offered a lucrative contract, she thinks she's made it. When she falls in love with jazz musician Hank Marley, she quickly learns that interracial relationships aren't met by others with fondness.
The shifting perspective that contrasts Glover's quest and the resistance she meets to find out what happened to Kendrick with Kendrick's desire to make films and love the man she wants is compelling and heartbreaking. Benson has crafted a noir film inside the pages of a book and the cast of characters in the present and past come vividly to life. He also makes the reader question what is morally just in the midst of a well-written crime drama.
In his book he gave uncensored details about what it means to be living in a world you do not fit. In his case being obese in a world where airplanes, public restrooms, restaurants and booths are not prioritize for people with his body type.
It’s the stuff of romance novels, but it’s true. Miller’s tempestuous real life — from abused child to shellshocked war correspondent — is tailor-made for historical fiction.
In this novel, Liza Wieland distills Bishop’s formative years into an artful blend of biography and imagination. Her challenge is to echo Bishop’s poetic voice without losing her own, and she manages beautifully.
"Joker" star Joaquin Phoenix reportedly hit a Los Angeles Fire Department vehicle in West Hollywood.
All of which is to say that for this Reviewer, "Talking to Strangers" felt a little flat. For fans that don't get a weekly dose of Gladwell in their ears, it may feel much fresher.
Jessye Norman's illustrious opera career and extraordinary artistry was honoured at her public funeral. So was Jessye Norman the loyal friend, the humanitarian, the teacher and the person not only celebrated for her golden voice, but for her heart of gold.