The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin is a fictional memoir of an actor in the 1970s. Curtains open on a group of struggling young actors, who have escaped the heat of lower Manhattan to hang out at a beach house.
Our hero is a narcissistic actor, Edward Day, who owes his life to his doppelganger, Guy Margate. Literally owes his life. Edward almost drowned.
Edward Day is a story about envy, jealousy and creative genius. It centers on the gap between artistic perfection and real life. Valerie Martin explored these subjects before in her brilliant short story collection, The Unfinished Novel. Now she turns her lens from authors and artists to focus on actors. Martin writes beautifully about the ugliness of human nature.
Despite the heavy psychological underpinnings, Edward Day moves at a good pace and is entertaining. Martin’s extensive research (down to high set costs vs. low actor wages) makes the off-off Broadway scene come to life. Being 20-something in 70’s NYC was good fun despite the hardships.
Fans of theater will appreciate the way Martin weaves the plays into the narrative. The actor-characters quote Shakespeare and discuss method acting. The themes of the plays echo in the characters’ lives offstage.
Sometimes the theater-narrative connection is overplayed. There is an obvious connection between Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and our characters. Martin describes those links scene by scene to the point of interrupting the narrative flow. Trust the reader.
“These lines drop from her lips without intonation, like a bag of chips falling into a vending machine when the correct code has been punched.”
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Blog Watch: Barrie sent me 2 useful links that explain how the new Federal and Trade Commission (FTC) rules effective December 1, 2009 apply to bloggers who accept free products (like ARCs and books) and endorse them:
- Interview with the FTC's Richard Cleland @ Edward Champion's Reluctant Habits
- Generate your own disclosure policy
Here are some NYT articles on it:
- "Soon, bloggers must give full disclosure" by Tim Arango (10/5/09)
- "New F.T.C. Rules Have Bloggers and Twitterers Mulling" by Kayleen Schaeffer (10/14/09)