A MOVIE...AND A BOOK by Daniel Wagner


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Wagner debuts with a little toy about deep thoughts for those who probably don’t really want to have them but may think they do.

There’s a saying in the family, “life is a book and a movie”—meaning that when bad things befall you, thinking of them as movie scenes can make you take them less seriously, and as book scenes can make you understand them better. Readers may wonder what this has to do with Wagner’s wisp of a novel, though the narrative does switch back and forth between little movie-script bits on the one hand, and conventional book-passage “scenes” on the other. Two brothers, Jim (a frustrated writer) and Andy (eccentric player of electronic games and creator of ideas for TV ads), are apparently involved in a top-secret, high-risk undertaking of some kind. For a long time, we’re not let in on what it is, though we do get to see Jim’s wife hanging around home and wondering where Jim is while their two kids, a boy and a girl, quarrel a lot, and we do get a lot of scenes about two young adults, Liz and Lou, who appear to have been—yup—stranded on a desert island. They’re not sure how they got there (really), but reader-interest lies in the question of whether the rather smug, arrogant, and stand-offish Lou will keep up his unresponsiveness to the sexual and personal charms of the sweet and lovely Liz. But, hey, don’t plan on ever finding out. What you will find out is that Jim and Andy’s dangerous project has to do with Liz and Lou. Guess they stuck the kids out there, but dunno. When Liz and Lou take off on a raft, Jim and Andy panic (why? dunno) and zoom around on motorboats trying to find them. Do they? Dunno. Does Liz seduce Lou? Dunno. Do they survive? Same.

No meaning, but easy to read, even sort of fun, like a comic book.

Pub Date: July 19th, 2004
ISBN: 1-4000-4188-0
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2004