ALL HIS SONS by Frederic Raphael


A Novella and Nine Stories
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If this were a movie written by Raphael, the climactic dialogue might sound like this:

“How could it happen?” “Look, he’s fabulous and swings both ways, novels and screenplays. But slack moments happen in his films too. Look at that final scene between Sidney Pollack and Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut. The air shoots right out of the movie. Too much talk.” “And you’re saying?” “This novella, All His Sons. Too many notes, Mozart. I kept falling asleep. Too many pages of deaf Raphael, not like his Coast to Coast (1999). Bundles of facts with no suspense.” “Not all of it.” “Of course not. It springs to life for long stretches. And passages rise up in dancing screenplay format. Then we get buried in talk again. I had to read the first ten pages twice to get all the characters straight. Two brothers, Stanley and Sidney. Stanley’s a professor who teaches film. Sidney produces films. They’re sons of a retired garment maker. Or are they? What about the black man their father treats like a son?” “This strives for satire on film deconstructionists?” “Yeah, but it’s not too funny. And the final scene with the brothers trying to get a grip on their origins. I felt him making it up as he went along.” “Well, how about the nine stories?” “Hopeful little firecrackers that hiss and pop but never explode. Most written for BBC Radio. Even here detail jams up. Most tell of greedy film folk and are not meant to change your life. Most will be lost on future readers and require more footnotes than Dante.” “Which did you like best?” “The last, ‘Son of Enoch,’ which told of a Somerset Maugham–like figure who wants to (not) write a career-capping phantom novel like Capote’s Answered Prayers. The style’s too smart by half—but that’s the point, the forked tongue of literary folk.”

“Try not to be cruel.” “I loved Eyes Wide Shut.”

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-945774-49-4
Page count: 187pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2001


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