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Flicker Hardcover – May, 1991

4.3 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This latest effort by the author of the seminal The Making of the Counterculture is a quirky, sexy, sprawling novel that comprises, among other things, a magical mystery tour of the history of cinema, an acid satire on Hollywood and what passes for today's cultural avant-garde, a metaphysical puzzle, an exploration of the psychological impact of films and a parable about the modern spiritual wasteland. UCLA film scholar and critic Jonathan Gates becomes obsessed with legendary German expressionist filmmaker Max Castle, who went to Hollywood in the mid-1920s and whose vampire and ghoul B-movies are viewed by cult fans as deeply troubling evocations of evil. On the trail of Castle's dark past, Gates and his ex-girlfriend, tough-minded film critic Clare Swann, encounter medieval gnostic heresies, secret societies, a teenage genius albino movie producer and an aged Dutch ex-vamp who practices tantric-like sex. Crammed with film lore that will regale cinema buffs, the narrative segues from its realistic beginning into a bizarre, apocalyptic fantasy that eventually spins off the reel, illuminating in the end only a very private, muddled vision.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"An irresistible book . . . the perfect film buff's novel." —Booklist


"Huge, deep-delving movie-lover's delight—and as rich a novel about the metaphysics of moviemaking as has ever been." —Kirkus Reviews


"A novel of great force and originality, nearly every page of which crackles with lust for film." —USA Today


"Tantalizing...scary as a Stephen King novel...has the power to fill even the most casual filmgoer with an awful, creeping dread."  —Bret Easton Ellis, author, American Psycho and Less than Zero


"A real shake-up of your psyche."  —The Courier-Gazette
                  


"The boldest novel about film since Suspects."  —Los Angeles City Beat
 
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Summit Books; First Edition edition (May 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671728318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671728311
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
First off, I should concede that it's been some time since I last read this book. The operative word here would be "last," since, in general, I don't re-read books of any sort. I have too many. And too many stacked up waiting to be read.
This is the sort of novel of dark designs and subterranean intrigue that Eco was aiming for (and conspicuously missed) with _Foucault's Pendulum_. In the grand, useless tradition of people who describe bands as being "like Lou Reed crossed with Enya," I'll expose this off-the-cuff critique to ridicule by saying that this book is like Pynchon's _Crying Of Lot 49_ minus the humorous names plus a good dose of David Lynch and with a little of the tone of _Dark Secret of Harvest Home_ tossed in to maximize the creepiness. Gee, I think that's officially a rebus. Or a recipe. Take your pick.
I first skimmed this book in a bookstore in 1991, on the recommendation of a friend's boss. Several years later I found a copy and bothered to read it through. This book will pull you in, no doubt about it. I've read it several times since, and there's a sort of network of friends and associates who, having all read it, refer knowingly, with a dark ironic nod and nervous laugh, to "the flicker" or "the Orphans" after seeing a movie like Kubrick's last.
I've lent out three paperback copies. All went missing. I have a hardback copy a friend found at a library's book sale, marked as remaindered from K Mart, of all places. That copy has a Must Return policy attached to it. So far four people have managed to return it. But grudgingly, in some cases.
I intend to start re-reading it this weekend.
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Format: Paperback
FLICKER is a book that combines a love of film with a thrilling plot to unravel a global conspiracy. The book is told from the first person perspective of Jonathan Gates, a premier film critic and scholar. Early in his life as a connoisseur of film, Gates discovers a missing movie of the infamous and enigmatic Max Castle. The movie haunts Gates and burns an aura of mystery into his mind. While watching the film he feels fascinated and repulsed simultaneously. The movie is both a work of genius and something that is pure evil. He is warned by his mentor and lover, Clarissa Swan to stay away from Castle because Castle's films do the opposite of what movies are supposed to do; movies should be works of art, enlightenment, amusement or a combination of the three, but Castle's films are none of those things. Despite, Clare's (Clarissa) warnings Gates becomes hooked and begins his life as the foremost scholar of Max Castle films. After that first night of viewing a Castle film, Gates begins a twenty-year crusade to uncover the mystery surrounding Max Castle and his life. His search takes him across the country and the world revealing one disturbing detail after another.

I enjoyed reading FLICKER. I found it to be a page turner. I was kind of let down by the ending, but as a whole the book was well written and had enough plot twists to keep me interested from one section to the next. Granted, there is a lot of subtext and background information between the major points of action, but I enjoyed that. Also, the book is easier to understand if one has an interest in film and is able to pick up many of the allusions the story refers to. Overall, the book is a thrilling and entertaining tale of love for the art of cinema, but a warning of how that art can be abused. It's much better than THE DA VINCI CODE.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Indeed, Flicker is my favorite novel of the past twenty years or so. An extremely rich and multi-layered text awaits those who yearn to learn a little more about film as art (and just how pervasive an art it can be) and our treasured persistence of vision. Expertly plotted, with a wonderful sonority to the prose, Roszak has taken on everything from Pope Innocent to Orson Welles - and done so with such conviction and honesty that you truly BELIEVE. I am CURRENTLY (I'm 34) pursuing my Doctorate in Cinema studies - just like our trusty hero Jonny Gates. Now, when I first read this over a decade ago (and have read it since a dozen times over) I was just out of College having received a B.A. in Film. This many years later, I still hold this amazing novel as my favorite in recent memory. Having a background in production, I ALWAYS wanted to make the film myself someday - but alas, my secret is out and Mr. Aronofsky is bringing his vision of this text to the screen. I hope the adaption is one of great skill as FLICKER demands a gifted hand to refine the necessary elements and do away with what won't translate (as with any adaption) but, with such a self-reflexive text - and one that superbly incorporates mystery, romance, theology, history, horror, social melodrama - etc. etc - an ispired adaption and exellent casting are of prime importance. PLEASE, if you love movies and are not afraid of their metaphysical aspects - READ FLICKER! If theory and criticism disgust you - steer clear. AMAZING BOOK MR. ROSZAK, you get me every time and I'm going for my 15th or 16th reading as the film draws near. Cheers mates.
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