Ben Macintyre * Tony Tetro * Robert Harris * Hannah Sward * Kaoru Takamura * Stephen King * Cat Rambo * Kerry Dolan * S. A. Chakraborty
Executive Producer/Rapist tells the narrator he was able to snag a place for her at his table during the Golden Globes. Narrator is so grateful, so giddy with excitement. Really? We’re just five pages till the end. Is this going to be one of those novels where the rapist gets away with . . . everything?
On the evening of, the narrator keeps craning her neck to see if she can spot the actress/rape victim, because she misses her.
Get this: the narrator is sitting at the rapist’s table, and she still hopes the actress will come up to her WHILE SHE IS SITTING AT THE RAPIST’S TABLE. Is she mental? (Subtext: rape, it’s no big deal, stop being such a crybaby etc etc)
The narrator is clue-less, absolutely clue-less. She is worried something must have been done to the leading lady (who breaks down in tears during a crucial scene) She then keeps asking, “Are you okay?”
Passage after passage in the closing pages, the narrator thinks like this (while not doing A THING):
Concern for Holly suddenly welled in me, yet I was cut off from reaching her. She seemed so inaccessible on that roof . . .— Complicit, p. 330
Self doesnt know whether to laugh or to cry.
Holly, the actress, has just been raped and still has to get up at 4 a.m. and show up on set. The director has a screaming fit and makes her repeat a scene sixteen times.
The response from the narrator? “None of us dared to look at him or at Holly . . . Everyone pretended not to notice that Holly was crying, even though we all knew she was. The boom operator turned his back, the camera operator switched off the camera and glanced at his phone.”
YIKES! Hello, narrator, this would be the perfect time for you to approach and hug or offer some other form of comfort. Can anything be more awful than the narrator’s passivity, her “Are you okay” questions.
Narrator: I walked over to her, about to ask if she was okay . . .
When the Executive Producer (the rapist) leaves the set, Holly performs her lines perfectly!
Next chapter: more passive musings from the narrator:
“In retrospect, I have no idea how Holly did it. If what we all suspect happened on the previous night did in fact happen, then . . . I can’t begin to imagine her state of mind the day we re-shot the rooftop scene . . . I hear that kind of violence, it leaves you in a certain state. Really traumatized. Holly somehow managed to fool us all into thinking she was okay.”
Really, really sick of the narrator’s rationalizations. If Holly had been raped (she was) and the narrator suspected it, shouldn’t she do something more than keep asking Holly: Are you okay? Maybe SHE SHOULD BE CALLING THE POLICE AND FILING A POLICE REPORT.
The narrator again, with her keen powers of observation: “Holly seemed like a totally different person afterward . . . ” Oh wow, so she’s not totally obtuse. She noticed Holly seemed “different.”
At this point . . . narrator, could you stop describing Holly’s mood swing and actually do something more than ask if she’s okay? The narrator has clearly decided to distance herself, and adopt an attitude of fake concern.
Narrator again: “But she wouldn’t let me in . . . rape was just too terrible to name . . . I sit for a moment and marvel at Holly’s nerves of steel . . . after you’ve gone through something so horrific . . . “
Can’t stand this narrator’s smugness, let me tell ya. Another woman confesses to her that she’s been raped by the Executive Producer (very Harvey Weinstein FEELZ). Narrator: “Are you okay?”
Narrator: I placed a tentative arm on her shoulder, realizing it would be awkward if I didn’t try to offer some comfort.
You see how obtuse she is?
The other rape victim confesses she’s been raped and this is the narrator’s reaction: “I was bewildered . . . it could have been anything, just a casual one-night stand.”
Oh. My. Gawd.
She tells the rape victim: “Sometimes Hugo relies a little too heavy on partying to blow off steam . . . We all have too much to drink sometimes . . . It’s perfectly within your rights not to have to drink with Hugo ever again, if you don’t feel comfortable.”
Seriously? Seriously, narrator?
What can you expect from someone who texts a rape victim: “Are you coming to the wrap party?” She then keeps text-ing the woman, even when the film finishes shooting, she still wants to be “friends.” Simply unbelievable.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
With her “procurement” of a young, pretty 22-year-old to be the personal assistant of predator/executive producer Hugo North, the narrator, Sarah Lai, is complicit. She needs someone to get the boss off her back, and the pretty young thing is just the ticket. What happens to that young woman after (she’s expected to provide sexual favors, and she does, and Sarah knows she does, but all she does is shrug and look the other way because, with her boss distracted, he is less of a jerk to her.) is partly Sarah’s fault.
Even worse is to come. The star of the film under production is a young actress named Holly Randolph who keeps herself “safe” from the executive producer’s predatory gaze by forming a fast friendship with Sarah Lai, the only other woman on-set. If Holly thinks Sarah is going to stick up for her when the executive producer starts demanding sexual favors — think again, Holly!
Ugh, self’s stomach is beginning to twist. She just knows Sarah Lai isn’t strong enough to stick up for the actress. She’ll look the other way, the way she did when she “procured” the personal assistant.
Hollywood film sets were such toxic environments — particularly for women. It seems there were only two ways for women to go: be Mother Theresa or be a slut. And don’t expect to find allies in other women, either. The women in this book, with the possible exception of the beauty who has her first starring role, are all looking out for themselves, and that means never crossing a male boss.
Which leaves the men. Is there not one upstanding man in this whole lot who will stick up for a woman being exploited in this way? Self considers the men in this novel. They’re all sleazebags, so no.
SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT
Sarah Lai leaves Holly at a party in the executive producer’s rented house. Holly considered her a friend. Instead of warning her, Sarah leaves her alone there. And she knows full well what is going to happen, since she herself was mauled by the executive producer, moments earlier.
Some friend you are, Sarah Lai. If the situation had been reversed, Holly would never have left that house without dragging you along with her. Gonna have to speed-read these last few pages.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
Our plucky heroine’s boss, Sylvia Zimmerman, is unexpectedly called back to New York because of a family emergency, leaving plucky heroine/ingenue Sarah to handle her very first movie set on her own. By the end of the first week, Sarah realizes she’s going to need help, especially since Hugo North, the Executive Producer, keeps piling on more grunt work for her to do:
Print out five copies of this contract for me.— Complicity, p. 239
Get me a copy of this script.
Connect me with this agent.
She hits on the idea of hiring a personal assistant for the executive producer. As she explains to her line producer (self is aware now that there are many types of producers, and the only one with any real clout is the Executive Producer), “It’s L.A. There’s dozens of film school students who would kill to intern for someone like Hugo.”
She emails the following job description to USC and UCLA:
Feature film production in need of intern to work closely with British executive producer during its six-week shoot. Director’s previous film has played in Cannes. Exec producer has extensive ties in the international entertainment and property industries.
Candidates must be hardworking, enthusiastic, a self-starter. Must have your own laptop and car. We will provide a cell phone. Position starts immediately.
By the following afternoon, we’d received twelve emails and I’d set up in-person interviews with five of the candidates that weekend.— Complicit, p. 240
The best candidate is a Vietnamese American student who’d completed his BA at Stanford. She nixes him in favor of a woman: “twenty-two, brunette, long-limbed and fetching. Perfect. She was just what I needed to keep Hugo happy.”
Now self understands the choice of title for this novel: Complicit.
Narrator: Sarah is the Chinese American assistant film producer and unofficial ghost writer for Xander, a movie director.
Jason is a well-known actor.
I was also the person who knew the script backwards and forwards, when each character was needed in each scene, how each narrative twist led to the next one. So I sat there quietly, soaking in this vicarious praise.
“Amazing script, can’t wait to get started,” Jason shouted. He turned to me in a lowered voice. “Hey, can you get me a glass of sparkling water before we start?”— Complicit, p. 214
Self is headed back to the Bay Area today. She spent four nights in Seattle, during two of which she slept. Last night she continued reading Wendy M. Li’s Complicit, which is told in a deceptively simple voice — its pleasures are cumulative.
It’s about a young (Chinese American) woman in an entry-level job in a film production company, who takes on more and more responsibility in order to prove how indispensable she is to the production company. Her boss is named Sylvia:
“Well,” Sylvia continued. “Stick around. I think you could really go far. And in a few years’ time, I could see you as head of development here.”
That simple statement, proferred out like a thin, dry Communion wafer, was enough to sustain me through the next few years of harried multitasking and inadequate income.
I didn’t think to ask for more. Nor did I ask for any kind of official credit for my work on Xander’s script. At the time, I just was grateful to be part of the team.— Complicit, by Wendy M. Li
Finished Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor in the wee hours (Took self 5 days!) and began the next book on her reading list: Wendy M. Li’s Complicit. Very much taken with this novel’s snappy beginning.
MC is teaching film class and the students don’t seem all that mature.
Sample dialogue, pp. 5 – 6:
“Who are some film characters that you really remember? Come on, name a few.”
“James Bond,” someone shouts out.
“Luke Skywalker,” another guy says.
“Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver,” some kid says, and I know he thinks he’s showing off his film knowledge, because he just referenced a movie made before 1980.
“Hannibal Lecter.”— Complicit, by Wendy M. Li
Have been hugely enjoying this book, which is about, variously: 1) a chase; 2) the fledgling colonies of North America; 3) how to survive winter in the wilderness; 4) loyalty
Self finds the villain almost as compelling as his quarry: the last two known living regicides, who are passed on from one religious community to another in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and are able to elude the King’s men for twenty years.
She is relieved when the chief pursuer, Nayler, receives an appointment as the secretary to the Lord Chancellor Edward Hyde and suspends the chase, because he deserves better. At some point, Hyde falls out with Charles II’s mistress, Lady Castlemaine, and the King offers him a choice: exile or imprisonment in the Tower.
As Hyde is carried out of the meeting (he was an invalid; also, extremely corpulent):
The King’s chief mistress had laughed and pointed: “He cannot rule. He cannot even walk!”
“O madam, is it you?” responded Hyde. “Pray remember that if you live, you will also grow old.”— Act of Oblivion, p. 422
Self loves the scene immediately following:
A coach had been arranged to take Hyde along the Thames to Erith, where a ship was waiting. When Nayler came to see him off from Clarendon House, his master had looked so forlorn that on impulse at the last minute he had jumped into the seat opposite. Hyde had looked at him, nodded, and looked away, as if he had expected it.
“I am grateful, Mr. Nayler, but be warned — I cannot pay you.”
This is her third Robert Harris read, and by far her favorite.
Began Act of Oblivion a few days ago. It’s her third Robert Harris.
His books are fun, combining history and cat-and-mouse suspense.
At first she found the title a tad melodramatic, but on reading further, she finds it was the name of an actual edict passed by the British Parliament in 1660. She also didn’t know that England sent out ‘hit squads’ to hunt down and punish the 59 men who signed the execution order of Charles I. There is one man who has made it his personal mission to bring two men, in particular, to justice. He assembles his *team*.
- The usual four men attended: his secretary, Mr. Samuel Nokes, a diligent young lawyer trained at Lincoln’s Inn; Dr. John Wallis, the Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford University, the greatest cryptanalyst in England and a supporter of Parliament in the Civil War, who had broken the cipher of the King’s correspondence captured at Naseby and who now, after some persuasion, was making his skills available to the new regime; Colonel Henry Bishop, the Postmaster General, who assumed the committee had prompt access to every letter that passed through the London trading office; and Mr. William Prynne, the MP for Bath, the most fanatical of the anti-regicides in Parliament, who always wore a black leather cowl to conceal the fact that his ears had been cut off in the pillory twenty years before.