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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Night Film: A Novel

I would venture to say that Marisha Pessl's Night Film is one of the most anticipated books of the summer. I got wind of it a few months ago when Stephen King recommended in a column of upcoming books and I sat on my hands impatiently while I waiting for an advance copy. I dove in like it was a pool of cold chocolate pudding in a hot desert.

Famed horror director Stanislas Cordova makes mind-blowing films that change your view on humanity and turn your world upside-down. His eccentricity and reclusive nature has only made him more of a cult figure to his followers since his last interview with Rolling Stone in 1977. Scott McGrath is a journalist whose life and career were ruined several years ago when he decided to pursue an investigation of the director. Now Cordova's beloved daughter, Ashley, has been found dead of an apparent suicide in an abandoned Chinatown warehouse. As McGrath pursues an unauthorized investigation in to her death, he finds a world of intrigue that is the largest puzzle he may ever have to put together--including black magic, mysterious disappearances, and the cult of Cordova.

Sometimes a novel will bowl you over so hard all you can do is sit on an abandoned curb stunned and wonder what the hell just happened to you. This is Night Film.

I will start by saying this book is a 500-something-page mindf&$%. There is no better way to describe how this book will own your soul for the time you spend inside its pages. There came a time where I myself was having difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction; I woke up one morning on vacation last week with an overwhelming desire to watch Lovechild, one of Cordova's films described in the novel. I had time, after all--I was on vacation. The only problem is that the films aren't real in real life. That's how invested I was in this book; Cordova's filmography is so lovingly detailed and realistic that it feels honest-to-Betsey real.

There were times mid-book where I found the miniscule detail for which Pessl is revered to be a little too tedious and I wanted more action; now that I am out the other side, however, I understand the importance of every detail provided and I have now changed my tune.

A few times in this book I thought I knew where the story was taking me only to hit a brick wall when it turns out I was wrong. This is the magic of Pessl's storytelling abilities. It was not about me; it was Pessl's ability to purposely lead me astray in order to turn around and punch me in the stomach. Smiling. With a baseball bat. That she hid in her trench coat.

I won't speak in detail about my favorite scenes, or the ones that blew my mind the most, because I do not give spoilers here. (Except for this one extended section toward the end that will 100% knock your socks off; seriously, when I finished the chapter I took in a deep breath and wondered if I actually took in any oxygen the entire time my eyes were racing across the pages.) Instead, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy and discover the magic yourself.

Hard copy on below. Waste no more time, please.

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