Thursday, April 3, 2008

"The Age of Dreaming"

New from Akashic Books: The Age of Dreaming by Nina Revoyr.

About the book, from the author's website:

Jun Nakayama was a silent film star in the early days of Hollywood. By 1964, he is living in complete obscurity, until a young writer, Nick Bellinger, tracks him down for an interview. When Bellinger reveals that he has written a screenplay with Nakayama in mind, Jun is intrigued by the possibility of returning to movies. But he begins to worry that someone might delve too deeply into the past, and uncover the events that led to the abrupt end of his career in 1922. These events include the changing social and racial tides in California—and the unsolved murder of his favorite director, Ashley Bennett Tyler.

Spurred on by his fear of a potential “misunderstanding,” Jun begins to track down his surviving acquaintances from his years as Perennial Pictures’ greatest star. In the process, he recounts the lives of several other figures from the silent film era: Elizabeth Banks, the working class girl from St. Louis who becomes a major Hollywood diva. Nora Minton Niles, the dreamy, childlike teenage actress controlled by her ambitious mother. Hanako Minatoya, the elegant actress and playwright who serves as Jun’s inspiration and foil. And Ashley Bennett Tyler, the British director whose guiding hand turns Jun into a star. But what Jun ultimately discovers is far more complex and personal than even he could have imagined.

The Age of Dreaming alternates between the 1960’s and the height of the silent film era. It is also the story of a man caught between worlds. Jun must try to please both his Japanese and American fans, and while he is adored by moviegoers—especially women—he’s despised by public officials, who see him as a threat to American power and racial purity.

The Age of Dreaming explores the history of Los Angeles, the heady beginnings of the movie industry, and the interplay of race and celebrity. It is part historical novel, part mystery, and part story of unfulfilled love, all told through the voice of a forgotten star who must gradually come to terms with his past.