A near-miss second thriller from Smith (Raveling, 2000), this about a young man’s search for a lost love who may not be lost—and may not be real.
Angel Veronchek, 34, the disaffected son of a rich and powerful movie mogul, lives as if in perpetual hiding. He sees almost no one and seldom ventures out of his shabby apartment in West Hollywood. Spasmodically, he works on an epic screenplay—ambitiously entitled Los Angeles. Occasionally, he’ll glance toward his TV set, where Ridley Scott’s futuristic cult classic, Blade Runner, rotates on a disc he can’t bear to stop. It hardly needs saying that Angel is deeply troubled, his existence heavily dependent on psycho-pharmaceuticals. To add to his crosses, he’s an albino: “white, white, white, even my eyelashes are white.” And then one day a new neighbor knocks at the door, introducing herself as Angela: young, beautiful, black. Angela to his Angel. Black to his white. Irrepressible to his hermetically repressed. In a complete change of life, Angel falls irrevocably in love, while Angela—enigmatic though she certainly is—seems to reciprocate. But he’s able to learn so little about her. Yes, she’s an exotic dancer. Yes, she has aspirations beyond that, which manage to go unspecified. Still, Angel finds himself experiencing something he never expected to, something akin to happiness—until the awful phone call. “Angel,” she says, but no more than that. A click and she’s gone. Vanished. Ill-equipped as he is for the search, Angel knows he has to find and rescue her. But from what or whom? Problem is, he can’t tell for sure how much of his Angela is imagined. Or, for that matter, how much of his Angel is.
The prose is elegant, even lyrical at times. But fragile, self-loathing Angel generates too little empathy to hold the stage successfully.