From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In his excellent third book, Haskell gets into the head of a lonely writer whose shot at a second chance hinges, strangely and brilliantly, on an impersonation of an impersonation of Steve Martin. The narrator, who could or could not be named Jack, leaves New York after a breakup and lands in Los Angeles to write about movies at the invitation of his editor friend, Alan. Soon, Alan introduces him to Jane, an ex-dancer apparently, who wanted to learn about photography, and assigns him a story about celebrity impersonators. When the narrator meets Scott, a Steve Martin impersonator, he begins channeling a version of the actor himself, and his impersonations mushroom into continuous Steve. Meanwhile, his relationship with Jane escalates (complicated by his Steveness), he tries his hand at acting and muses about famous movies and the ways in which Hollywooders reinvent themselves. Haskell's vision is frightening and exhilarating, and his prose can imbue a spiritual glow to, for instance, a discarded raisin on a Starbucks table. It's an odd world, and certainly one worth entering. (Feb.)
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A journalist leaves New York in the wake of a failed love affair and heads to Los Angeles, hoping to write about movies. He winds up interviewing a Steve Martin impersonator and is inspired to try “being Steve” himself—not as a paid gig but as a daily incarnation. What at first seems like just another novel about L.A. anomie turns out to be something more transfixing: a kind of pop Zen parable, at once whimsical and austere. Haskell cultivates a winking deadpan to chronicle his narrator’s twilight of the soul, inserting revelations in unexpected places. When the narrator (who, inevitably, becomes an actor) is cast as a monster in a video game and required to lift a heavy co-star for a prolonged shot, he hopes that “with acceptance the pain would lose its meaning”; later, he discovers a raisin abandoned on a table at Starbucks, “glowing with its raisinness.”
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