Tuesday, January 02, 2007

While I was gone, Teej finally released the embargo:

But I've heard that I can tell you which writers will be in the anthology that Becky and I edited, so I'll do that. MOONLIGHT & ROSES features original stories from:

David Puterbaugh, Mark Harris, Shawn Anniston, Brandon M. Long, Felice Picano, Rob Byrnes, Trebor Healey, Josh Helmin, Jeffrey Ricker, Joel Derfner, 'Nathan Burgoine, Rob Williams, Greg Herren, and John H. Roush.

I have never been in better company. Meaning that I'll almost certainly be embarrassed when Moonlight & Roses is published and my short story is compared to the others.

I don't really do short stories; they are an artform with which I am both unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But, for better or worse, I wrote one. God help us all...

And speaking of writing and embargoes... I have been holding on to this review for more than three months now, waiting for it to be published in the Sonoma County, California We The People web magazine. But now that December has come and gone, and it still hasn't been published, I am going to print it here. Hopefully, it will show up on WtP at some point in the near future, but it's too nice to slip through the cracks. The reviewer, by the way, is Hal Campbell:
Headline: Two Generations Touched by Movie Magic

by Rob Byrnes
Kensington Publishing Co.

The opening premise of this book is something we can all probably relate to. What do you do when you realize you keep seeing a stranger over and over in a variety of unrelated places? Perhaps in a small town you can say it's just a coincidence. But when you live in a big city like Manhattan, there has to be some reason involved that goes way beyond coincidence.

Noah Abraham finds himself dealing with this dilemma. A writer whose latest project (the lives of closeted congressional staffers) has collapsed and burned, he now finds himself adrift in his beloved NYC. in search of a new subject that is book worthy and
which will restore his editor's faith in him--a faith symbolized by a hefty cash advance, now spent.

Meanwhile, also wandering around the city is Bart Gustafson, a personal assistant to retired movie star Quinn Scott and his lover (the term "partner" wasn't around when they set up housekeeping), Jimmy Beloit. Bart is taking a week's vacation, searching for some high energy fun after being cooped up in a Southhampton mansion.

Then the chance spottings begin. Boy sees boy, , , and then again and again in a short period of time. It takes awhile before the two finally meet and even longer before the sheets are finally "hit"--in Noah's father and zany stepmother's apartment, which apparently isn't soundproofed since introductions the next morning motivate Noah's father to say, "Oh, Bart! As in 'Oh, Bart, that feels fantastic!' You're that Bart?" Mortification: Party of two.

The novel's primary plot, however, is not what will happen to Noah and Bart, although that relationship continues to weave itself into the fabric of the main story. What gets the novel going is the Hollywood backgrounds of Bart's employers. It turns out that Quinn Scott divorced his wife, the beloved star and still somewhat-in-demand Kitty Randolph, when he fell in love with Jimmy, a dancer in the last film Kitty and Quinn made together. Hell hath no furry like an Academy Award-winning actress scorned, which could explain why 1970's "When the Stars Come Out" was also Quinn's last film. [Note: This might be a good time to suggest that readers rent the 1969 musical "Darling Lili" starring Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson prior to the reading of this novel. Not that I'm implying anything. . . ]

After learning all this from Bart, Noah rehashes the story to his editor, who then says the magic sentence: "Now that is a book I would want to read." With those words Noah's life becomes one of total dedication to getting Quinn to allow Noah to ghostwrite the actor's life.

The book abounds with humor and poignancy and ultimately what I expected to be a "trashy beach book" turns out to be a really touching tale of what some people will give up for love.

As Quinn says in his autobiography (yes, he and Noah actually made the book happen), "There is pain in revisiting the past. . . but watching those old movies reminds me of a time when life felt fresh and perfect. It wasn't perfect, of course--it only became perfect when Jimmy came along--but at the time, it was as close to perfect as I thought I would ever know. And anyway, Jimmy came. . . from those old movies, too, and I can watch our celluloid memories over and over and over . . ."

I'll let you guess what happens to Noah and Bart. I will say, though, that sometimes life can be like the movies.