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Little Known Facts: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Christine Sneed
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The people who orbit around Renn Ivins, an actor of Harrison Ford-like stature--his girlfriends, his children, his ex-wives, those on the periphery--long to experience the glow of his flame. Anna and Will are Renn's grown children, struggling to be authentic versions of themselves in a world where they are seen as less important extensions of their father. They are both drawn to and repelled by the man who overshadows every part of them.Most of us can imagine the perks of celebrity, but Little Known Facts offers a clear-eyed story of its effects--the fallout of fame and fortune on family members and others who can neither fully embrace nor ignore the superstar in their midst. With Little Known Facts, Christine Sneed emerges as one of the most insightful chroniclers of our celebrity-obsessed age, telling a story of influence and affluence, of forging identity and happiness and a moral compass; the question being, if we could have anything on earth, would we choose correctly?

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In his silvered fifties, Renn Ivins extends his reign as a Hollywood sex symbol, adding screenwriting and directing to his accomplishments. Twice-divorced, he also embarks on a closely observed relationship with his movie’s ambitious star, Elise, who is younger than his two children, Will and Anna. Sneed follows her award-winning short story collection, Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry (2010), with an ensnaring first novel that delves into the complex challenges and anguish of living with and in the shadow of celebrity. Sneed’s wit, curiosity, empathy, and ability to divine the perfect detail propel this psychologically exquisite, superbly realized novel of intriguing, caricature-transcending characters and predicaments. Lost-soul Will knows he “should be happy,” but instead he is adrift and angry. A medical student emulating her steadfast pediatrician mother, the novel’s moral center, Anna seems immune from the toxins of family notoriety until an untenable love affair exposes her vulnerability. As Sneed illuminates each facet of her percussively choreographed plot via delectably slant disclosures––overheard conversations, snooping, tabloids, confessions under duress, and journal entries, among them—she spotlights “little known facts” about the cost of fame, our erotic obsession with movie-star power, and where joy can be found. --Donna Seaman


"Impressive. . . hypnotic. . . hard to put down. . . . Little Known Facts is juicy enough to appeal to our prurience but smart enough not to make us feel dirty afterward.... Sneed is such a gifted writer... Her depiction of both proximity to celebrity and celebrity itself had me totally convinced." --Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times Book Review (cover)

Product Details

  • File Size: 503 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608199584
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (February 12, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009K4YRU6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,431 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE FAME GAME February 16, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The narrative of LITTLE KNOWN FACTS contains a series of eleven linked, individual chapters in which different characters whose lives have been in some way influenced by the irresistible, charismatic, multi-talented and somewhat needy movie star/director Renn Ivins explain their own emotional relationships with the man. In addition to the two ex-wives, and the current much younger and impressionable girlfriends, there are Renn's two children whom he has gifted with an exorbitant amount of money in an effort to salve his guilty conscience, as well as a freelance propmaster and assorted hangers-on. Renn's son Billy is an overindulged, unambitious sort, who dabbles at possible careers and sees his father's fame as a threat to his personal happiness and development while his daughter Anne has followed in her mother's footsteps and become a doctor but seems to be looking for a "father figure" in the men she loves.

This is one of those books that appears on the surface to be as light weight as a souffle but in truth is more like an artichoke where one peels back the various layers before arriving at the much anticipated and satisfying heart of the thing. The story is well told and occasionally humorous and I believe that most readers will come away more than gratified by this inside look at how some folks can finally step outside the shadow cast by a famous and influential personality to find their own place in the sun.

One further observation: LITTLE KNOWN FACTS pre-release blurbs compares it's Renn Ivins character to Harrison Ford, but as I read I was reminded more of Clint Eastwood OR......... going back a few years......Angelica's randy father, John Huston.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
As is usual, I received this book because my fiancee won the title in a drawing and was kind enough to pass it along to me after her own perusal. Despite the book's low-low price of nothing, I will provide my candid opinion below.

I tend to try to start out the review of any book with a bit of a teaser or summary of the beginning seed of the plot. That goal becomes difficult in this case simply because there isn't really a plot to speak of. Sneed's novel has plenty to say but it doesn't rely on any silly conventions like evolving story lines to draw the reader along. Instead, Little Known Facts provides us with an insightful snapshot of four very unhappy people who by the standards of society should abundantly grateful for their positions of wealth and fame.

When my fiancee passed this along to me she did it with a bit of reticence suspecting that I would dislike it. I'm not a typical "guy" reader who needs lots of drama and action but I do like to feel at the end of the novel that I've learned something and Sneed's latest doesn't fail at that. She paints a lucid picture of the darker aspects of life as one of Hollywood's monied elite. Her narrative revolves in viewpoint from one character to the next as we hear not only how it feels to be the famous and renowned actor but also how it feels to be his son, his daughter, his wife, his ex-wife and everyone in between. Seldom is a single aspect of human existence put on display for us with such completeness and rendered with such skill.

In summary, Little Known Facts does have an important message to share and it is written in a wonderfully readable style. It falls short for me only because the topic in question is a bit outside my immediate realm of interest.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book took me by surprise, because from the description I expected a little soap-operaish gossip about some vapid people, and while I figured it might be entertaining I wasn't expecting it to cover much new ground.

Having experienced - kind of - the situation author Christine Sneed is exploring, I found it honest and depressingly/amusingly/cynically accurate. I know a little about the 'orbit' of someone in the general galaxy of Renn Ivin.

Sneed successfully brings out a variety of personalities, and while they are certainly suffering from 'first world problems,' I found myself rooting for them, and hoping they'd find some peace and serenity by the end of the narrative. Because they are all rich, privileged and unusually self-centered, it's easy to call these characters, "unlikable." I suppose they are, but at heart, most human beings face any number of flaws, and these are no worse or better than most. It's to Sneed's credit that she built a world about people we should have no sympathy for, and yet found a way to touch the nerve that made me care.

The premise - the orbiting world around a major movie star, his wives and his children - is quite believable. It's not like the HBO show "Entourage," but it's a grown-up version. The father has certain expectations and demands - because his success is what creates the benefits that has helped all their lives. So he's utterly selfish - yet, not horrible, and at his worst, he's at least self-aware. And, really, that's what it takes to be that successful - someone at the top of the food chain can't spend a lot of time worrying about everybody else, because that takes the focus off what's most important. This is subtly shown through a few scenes involving his girlfriend (a young actress) and her own flawed family.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Found this one boring. It started off interesting
Found this one boring. It started off interesting, but I found myself skimming through just to get to the end...which was disappointing.
Published 1 day ago by Darlene Williams
2.0 out of 5 stars I did not enjoy this book
I did not enjoy this book. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen and it never did. Waste of time.
Published 19 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Exquisitely Bored in California
Pretty good prose, but I couldn't like any of the characters very much. They're either self-centered and work hard, or they're just self-centered. I kept reading, though. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Dan Truitt
5.0 out of 5 stars CAPTIVATING
These linked stories draw back the curtain so readers glimpse, paparazzi-like, life behind the glamorous headlines of a Hollywood star's life and entourage. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gabrielle Gates
3.0 out of 5 stars Well, I'll be darn!
An interesting inside view of the family of the rich and the famous. The story does leave you up in the air, has a weak finish.
Published 3 months ago by michael vogel
2.0 out of 5 stars Snoozer
Considering the subject matter -- what it's like to be a famous movie star and how the people in his life are affected -- I was surprised at how boring the story was. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lee Held
3.0 out of 5 stars Diverting but not gripping.
I found this book diverting but easy to put down. It is essentially series of character studies without a strong plot.
Published 3 months ago by joan birsh
2.0 out of 5 stars Loose Ends
I enjoyed the book until it ended abruptly, with several loose ends. I flipped the page, expecting to read the real ending, and saw the "Acknowledgements" page. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Annie L
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Known Facts Is An Irresistible Story
You might wonder why Christine Sneed titled her novel Little Known Facts. Sounding like an encyclopedia that children could use to trip up their teachers, it might not seem like a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sandra FLuck
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fictional storyof the personal family life of a famous,...
One of my most enjoyable reads of the year! This book explores in depth the feelings and relationsips of family, friends, and the women in a narcissistic, famous actors life. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Sandra E. Collin
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More About the Author

Christine Sneed, winner of the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation, is the author of the novel Little Known Facts (Bloomsbury UK & USA, 2013) and the story collection Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry, a 2009 AWP Grace Paley Prize winner, a finalist for the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Award (first-fiction category), winner of the 2011 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares, and winner of the Chicago Writers Association 2011 Book of the Year (in the traditionally published fiction category). The San Francisco Chronicle also chose Portraits as one of the fifty best fiction books of 2011. Christine lives in Evanston, Illinois and teaches for the English Department of DePaul University in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago and the graduate writing program at Northwestern University. Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry is her first book, and the ten stories in this collection feature self-questioning protagonists.

Her second book, Little Known Facts, focuses on a successful Hollywood actor and the effects of his fame on his two ex-wives and his two grown children, especially his son.

Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, New England Review, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Meridian, Pleiades, Notre Dame Review, New Ohio Review, Massachusetts Review, River Styx, and a number of other journals. Christine has also published 30 poems in North American literary journals, was awarded an Illinois Arts Council fellowship in poetry in 2003 and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations. Some of her literary influences include Alice Munro, Martin Amis, Jim Harrison, Deborah Eisenberg, Margaret Atwood, Anne Carson, Steve Almond, Penelope Fitzgerald, Penelope Lively and John Updike.

She earned a Master's of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Indiana University - Bloomington and a Bachelor of Science degree in French language and literature from Georgetown University.

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