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Slapstick [The Harold Gilbert Trilogy, Book II] [Kindle Edition]

Laura Mazzuca Toops
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.50
Kindle Price: $7.00
You Save: $8.50 (55%)

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Book Description

Harold Gilbert started out as a small-town kid on the vaudeville trouping circuit, and ended up as the world's most popular film comedian. He's got a million-dollar career, his own studio, an estate called Avalon, a cherry-red Bugatti sportscar, a beautiful wife and two children. But in 1927 Hollywood, nothing is quite what it seems...including Harold and everything that seems perfect in his life.


His wife Ella, formerly his leading lady in his early comedies, is steeped in alcoholism and growing mental illness. His children are strangers to him. His pretty young costar, Lila Lenore, wants more than a working relationship with him. Producer Max Randolph, Harold's former boss and friend from his two-reeler days, seems to have it in for him, although Harold can't figure out why. And a girl from Harold's past, who died under mysterious circumstances keeps coming back to him in dreams that seem to be both a rebuke and a warning. The only way he can keep the demons at bay is by transforming his fears into laughter on film.


Harold's world is about to turn upside-down. Waiting in the wings are talking pictures—a crude, unperfected medium that Harold refuses to acknowledge. But before long, talkies begin to eclipse the silents—and Harold finds himself enmeshed in a struggle for survival in a suddenly alien world. Slapstick digs beneath the sunny optimism of the movies' Golden Age to examine how myths are made, both on and offscreen. It's a story of both the shipwrecked and the survivors of the film world's first big shakeup, and how they cope with one of man's most primal needs—the drive to create.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"A vivid and touching portrait of Hollywood and its denizens in a bygone age, and one of the few Hollywood novels that really captures the spirit of the many movie pioneers I came to know."--Robert S. Birchard, author of King Cowboy: Tom Mix and the Movies

"Well-penned and entertaining…a rare treat for film buffs…hard to put down and even harder to forget."--BookPage

"Captures the dizzing energy of the Golden Age of motion pictures…the carefully laid details sparkle, giving the novel depth and authenticity."--Midwest Book Review

"The fall from grace, popularity and wealth of Harold Gilbert makes entertaining reading."--Anthony Slide, film historian

"Laura Mazzuca Toops is quite a fine writer. Her narrative is clean, crisp, direct and very involving...if you're a silent movie fan, you can't help but get Slapstick."--Laura Wagner, Classic Images

From the Inside Flap

Harold Gilbert started out as a small-town kid on the vaudeville trouping circuit, and ended up as the world’s most popular film comedian. He’s got a million-dollar career, his own studio, an estate called Avalon, a cherry-red Bugatti sportscar, a beautiful wife and two children. But in 1927 Hollywood, nothing is quite what it seems…including Harold and everything that seems perfect in his life.

His wife Ella, formerly his leading lady in his early comedies, is steeped in alcoholism and growing mental illness. His children are strangers to him. His pretty young costar, Lila Lenore, wants more than a working relationship with him. Producer Max Randolph, Harold’s former boss and friend from his two-reeler days, seems to have it in for him, although Harold can’t figure out why. And a girl from Harold’s past, who died under mysterious circumstances keeps coming back to him in dreams that seem to be both a rebuke and a warning. The only way he can keep the demons at bay is by transforming his fears into laughter on film.

Harold’s world is about to turn upside-down. Waiting in the wings are talking pictures – a crude, unperfected medium that Harold refuses to acknowledge. But before long, talkies begin to eclipse the silents – and Harold finds himself enmeshed in a struggle for survival in a suddenly alien world. Slapstick digs beneath the sunny optimism of the movies’ Golden Age to examine how myths are made, both on and offscreen. It’s a story of both the shipwrecked and the survivors of the film world’s first big shakeup, and how they cope with one of man’s most primal needs – the drive to create.


Product Details

  • File Size: 409 KB
  • Print Length: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Amber Quill Press, LLC (October 18, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0032CX4IS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,204,883 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended April 23, 2001
By C. Penn
Format:CD-ROM
Beneath the glittery layers of Tinsel Town and tireless optimism of 1920s lays the story of how myths are created. The public sees only the highly successful comedian Harold Gilbert, the man with the million-dollar career, his own studio, a million dollar estate, and a beautiful wife and children. Yet Harold can't move with the changing times, nor can he forgot the dead girl who haunts his dreams.
Harold refuses to face change, preferring to maintain the status quo. A workaholic, Harold doesn't recognize the threats to his safe world. When Harold looses his lead director to an opportunity to work on "talkies," he still clings to his proven method of silent movies. Despite the success of movies with sound, Harold believes talkies are a cheap gimmick. Just as he refuses to make changes career wise, so does he also ignore the signs indicating necessary changes at home. When his wife takes a separate bedroom, refusing to sleep with him and drinking too much, Harold doesn't intervene.
It was a time of secrets. Even Harold doesn't know why his partnership with Max Randolf ended years ago, or the animosity his "friend" still bears. Nor does he know of Ella's involvement with Max. Harold doesn't know who the girl was, or how she died. Nor does Harold know the truth of Lila's background, despite the fact that she's been his leading lady for three years.
As the dream of the dead girl continues to haunt Harold's sleep, so must he face the waking nightmares that threaten his career, his home and his self identity. With the crashing of the market, and the drained spirit of the people, so does Harold's own boundless energy seep away, leaving him cast adrift in an insensitive world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Tales review September 14, 2002
Format:CD-ROM
By TT reviewer Starly [full review on our website]
Harold Gilbert had it made. A fine film career, his own studio where he made successful silent pictures.
He owned a fabulous mansion, loved his beautiful wife Ella and their two sweet kids. His leading lady Lila Lenor could hold her own with the best of them. His camera and studio crew were not only employees, but they were friends.
Was it the advent of talkies that caused the problem, or the defection of Max all those years ago? Maybe it was the failure of Ella's attempt of a movie comeback after the kids were born. Her escalating coldness sure didn't help, nor did the studio's insistence, under the baleful eye of the lawyers, that the next film had to be a talkie.
Upright and proper, Harold had never strayed in a world where infidelity was the norm. But Ella's illness left him lonely and vulnerable. A final, monumental betrayal seemed to be the last straw. And then the dream returned.
This story is an intimate portrait of life in the moving picture arena of the roaring twenties. Fast custom made cars, illegal booze and legal pot made a society crazy for pleasure. The stock market crash and subsequent depression changed lives overnight.
Ever wonder what it would be like to live in Hollywood in the days of bootleg gin and silent films? Ms Toops creates the period with just the right atmosphere of reckless gaiety.
This story is beautifully written with artistry that transforms reading into an almost tactile experience. I swear I could smell the booze, her writing was so real.
To visit the 20's pick up Slapstick. You'll be there within the first paragraph.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flappers and speakeasies... April 25, 2004
Format:Paperback
This is an ideal tale for the old film buff and readers of historical fiction. It is also a tale that will please any other reader as well.
Whether or not Harold Gilbert and the characters in this book are real or imaginary, Slapstick reads like a biography done by a talented author who knows the period used as the setting.
Harold Gilbert owns a silent movie company and stars in them as well. The film industry is one the verge of changing to talkies and Harold thinks it is merely a fad.
Harold begins to feel lost in a world that is changing too rapidly for him to adjust and then, he finds his home life is also changing and not for the better.
The characters will seem to want to step off the page and shake your hand. The world of flappers and speakeasies, jazz and the Charleston, will welcome you and broaden your education about a time that will never come again.
Written by an author of considerable talent and a sure knowledge of the humanity, Slapstick will hold you enthralled and you'll be sorry when the last page is read. Highly recommended by an enthusiastic reader. Enjoy.
-Anne K. Edwards
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stars aren't enough July 29, 2003
Format:Paperback
Slapstick by Laura Mazzuca Toops is an excellent novel about Hollywood in the 1920s. The story centers around Harold `Hal' Gilbert, a popular silent movie comedian. Talking films are becoming more and more popular, and Hal is not moving with the times. His former partner, Max Rudolph, tries to encourage him to see the light, but Hal's insistent that `talkies' are just a fad. The history between the two men (from the previous book, The Latham Loop) is recalled in a tense scene, and foreshadows the ending. Hal's struggle to stay true to himself, and his art collides with his desire to stay relevant in the movie industry, and leads us on a wild ride everywhere from speakeasys to mental institutions.
This book was even better than the first, though I must warn that it is definitely a three-Kleenex ending! Toops' characterization is flawless, and her description of Hal's tour through the world of the Depression was just amazing- small details made it truly real for the reader. The ending was wonderful, and gives enough of an epilogue that you know `what happened after,' which is often left to the imagination. A definite page-turner, and a book anyone will enjoy.
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More About the Author

Author Laura Mazzuca Toops is a Chicago-based writer with more than 20 years of professional experience. Her writing, editing and reporting experience includes stints at Chicago's legendary City News Bureau, Crain Communications, freelance work for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and other local and national publications. She also worked for five years as a film critic for a Chicago monthly entertainment magazine. Her short fiction has been published in several local little magazines, and she has studied at writing workshops at the University of Chicago. She is the author of three published novels (Hudson Lake, Slapstick and The Latham Loop)and a nonfiction book, A Native's Guide to Chicago's Western Suburbs. She has taught fiction writing at several local venues, including the College of DuPage.





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