Book Review: The Play’s The Thing…

A Bright Ray of Darkness is a novel written by Ethan Hawke. Hawke is of course better known as an actor, but he apparently likes to throw out a book every not and then.

The tale is told in the first person from the perspective of actor William Harding, who is the midst of a public scandal after he is caught cheating on his wife. Young William has joined the cast of a stage the hopes of of some kind of redemption. He has tried to drown out his regret with booze and sex, but he is merely making his situation worse. Anyway, the catch is that an actual Hollywood figure is giving a fictional inside look of the profession.

So, this isn’t my usual mode of literary diversion, and I doubt I will be revisiting this one anytime soon. Harding is a little hard for me to find much sympathy for. Toward the end of the novel, Harding gets some advice from his fellow cast members and the director that sort of resonated with me. Unfortunately, it isn’t until that moment that I saw Harding as another shallow Hollywood airhead. Hawke’s writing isn’t that bad though. I didn’t find it to be uniquely compelling, but I have read worse. I suspect my reservations about this novel is inspired by my overall cynicism of Hollywood airheads. Through much of the novel, he makes most of the boneheaded decisions I would expect. There is some payoff toward the end, but this one tested my patience overall.

Now that is over, time to immerse my imagination in 1940’s Los Angeles with James Ellroy’s This Storm.

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