Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Night Film

This book has gotten so much buzz this summer!

I love me a good psychological thriller, so was eager to get at NIGHT FILM. I got a free sample of the book on my Nook Simple Touch, but decided to buy a hardcover copy as there are a lot of graphics interspersed throughout the book, which made reading it on the Simple Touch seem not as inviting.


So the story. Ashley Cordova is found dead. She is the daughter of Stanislas Cordova, director of films so disturbing, most of them can only be viewed in secret, underground locations. Because Cordova's films are so violent and disturbing, and his own life fraught with secrecy and mystery, Scott McGrath, investigative reporter and also a fan of Cordova's films, thinks that there must be something more to Ashley's death than suicide, as was first reported in the media.

As McGrath begins his investigation, he meets two people who may be able to help him. Nora, a barely post-teen waif who is also intrigued by Cordova, and Hopper, a drug dealer who just might know more about Ashley than he lets on.

Their exploration takes them to meet former players in Cordova's films, a former wife, the mental hospital where Ashley spent some time, secret online message boards, and perhaps even to Cordova's huge estate, The Peak, where he has lived and filmed all of his movies, all of which are shrouded in secrecy. What really happened to Ashley?

I was eager to find out. However, I got a little distracted and frustrated from the story by all the italics Pessl used.

Do you remember the movie TOOTSIE with Dustin Hoffman? In it, he plays Michael Dorsey, a frustrated actor. Dorsey teaches an acting class and in it, he told his students to put their own emphasis on words as they read a scene. They might emphasize the word but or and, even though the scriptwriter might have wanted the emphasis on another word.

I thought of this as I was reading NIGHT FILM. I think readers are like actors in this way. Reading a book gives me the opportunity to emphasize what I want to. All the italicized words in this book made me feel as though the emphasis was decided for me, and I didn't like it. Here is a random sampling:

"There was only a busy signal. I tried the number every hour for the next six hours. It remained busy."

"The chime dinged over the loudspeakers for the second time."

"There was a strict dress code - which the person who'd answered my post had failed to mention. The men were in suits and ties. Hopper and I were certainly going to stick out - not to mention the fact that I had chalky rings of saltwater on my pants."

"Six o'clock came and went. There was no word from her. Soon it was seven. Eight. I called her cellphone. No answer. I went to her house and rang the bell."

The italicized words felt random and unnecessary.

Back to the story.

I did want to find out how Ashley died and more about the mystery surrounding Cordova and his films. Pessl created a vivid atmosphere of a secretive film personality and fan world. I liked how she included newspaper articles, photos, interviews, and internet message boards in the story.

While the ending was satisfying to me, there were some plot twists that seemed a bit overdone. Maybe kind of like the italics.

Thanks for reading the blog! Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's web page for NIGHT FILM. Purchasing through this link helps support the blog. Please feel free to comment on the blog itself, or check out our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review. Happy reading!

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