Reluctantly back home in L.A. after 16 years in Africa, documentary filmmaker Mouse FitzHenry longs for the harsh, teeming jungle life her dark lens took in so lovingly. Wrenched stateside by a family emergency, with her longtime boyfriend/collaborator in tow, Mouse is instantly beleaguered by a past she’d leapt continents to escape and a present she can only face armed by reels of celluloid. In this rollicking second novel, Karbo ( Trespassers Welcome Here ) reveals familiar subjects–the phony glitz of Hollywood, the fairy-tale lure of love and marriage–with precision, compassion and humor as if we are seeing them for the very first time. Mouse’s paramour Tony, a Brit who calls her “poppet,” adores L.A. and all that it can do for him and for his screenplay, Love Among the Elephants . “Based on a true story” about their courtship in Africa, the script has been given the go-ahead by a producer who insists on dubbing it Love Among Gorillas. Mouse, meanwhile, caving in to maternal pressure, agrees to marry Tony and then proceeds, with the help of an old flame, to film around her unwitting fiance a documentary on the entire process of their betrothal called Wedding March. A flawless, page-turning story emerges as Mouse and Tony manage–often with hilarious subterfuge–to keep their projects secret from one another. With its laugh-aloud moments and a cast of brilliantly drawn characters, this is a tale to treasure.
When THE DIAMOND LANE first came out, it was admired for its edgy style and hailed, for good reason, as “A deft, tragicomic social satire--of Los Angeles and the movie biz in particular and modern mores in general--noteworthy for the complexity of its characters, crisp prose, and loopy comic style.” (Library Journal) The New York Times loved it--declaring it one of the best novels of 1991--”A wonderfully comic novel about savvy Hollywood outsiders trying to get in -- and to juggle their disastrous but funny love lives.” In the twenty-two years since publication, things have changed--or not. Filmmakers do not, perhaps, lug around the miles of celluloid and the burdensome cameras and sound recorders that they once did. Mobile phones ring all the time now, and perhaps Solly can reach his target-connections in New York more readily that he could then(perhaps not), but the convoluted relationships between art and commerce, truth and fiction, love and rivalry, wit and sadness that Karbo explores in THE DIAMOND LANE have not changed. This novel still feels knowing and audacious and up-to-the-minute. -- Jane Smiley, Introduction, 2014 edition
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