Monday, July 28, 2008

Book Review: Russell Hill, Robbie's Wife (2007)

This is one of those books that I like more having finished it than I did while I was reading it. The first 150 pages are slow, and I am not sure that they adequately prepare for the book's third act. But the more that I think about the flaws in this book, the less I am certain that they are flaws. For example, the book's narrator, Jack Stone, is an over-the-hill Hollywood screenwriter who takes a working holiday in Britain to revitalize his career. Occasionally in the novel, we see mediocre snippets from his screenplay-in-progress, and we see one long section, which is utterly incompetent. This long section is largely expository in a way that a professional screenwriter would never be. In other words, it looks like a screenplay written by someone who has never seen a screenplay. And readers are supposed to believe that this guy is a professional screenwriter? But Jack Stone is also a character in crisis, and the more that I think about his writing in the book, which he repeatedly proclaims to be "good" despite much evidence to the contrary, the more I think that it is an appropriate reflection of his psychological state. I know several folks whose opinions I respect who think that this is a great one . . . so I'm going to keep thinking about it. . . . Grade: B-

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