Glamour-packed first novel by journalist Sherrill (The Buddha from Brooklyn, 2000) about a big-name Hollywood interviewer writing her last profile of a movie star.
Clementine James has written a 20,000-word essay on Erich von Stroheim for Flame magazine that her editor butchers down to 5,000 words. She quits movie biz. But Allegra Coleman, who has made only three movies (the latest being a remake of Antonioni's L’Avventura), demands Clem interview her. Flame offers Clem triple pay. Sticking to Allegra for a week between shoots, Clem sees her as an airhead filled with Buddhist philosophy and the usual narcissistic chatter about acting. Allegra believes she’s a rising star now because the energy of the universe declares it. On Interstate 5, Allegra, at the wheel, keeps eye contact with Clem. Then a crash costs Clem her right eye, while Allegra, for unknown reasons, walks away from the totaled car (read: James Dean’s Porsche) and disappears. As months go by, Allegra is nominated for an Oscar for Sphinxa and suddenly rises into the postmortal heavens of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, with the public holding candlelight vigils in the Hollywood Bowl. Now Flame, planning an all-Allegra issue, really wants Clem’s Allegra profile. Meanwhile, in the hospital Clem is promised a newly invented Bio-eye from Switzerland. When she’s released, her eye-patch makes her as famous as Allegra and she’s chased by reporters. She goes about interviewing more people tied to Allegra, although not definitely writing the Flame article. That much of the novel has suspense, but Sherrill now lapses into big walk-ons from dead stars who invade Clem’s dreams and have a schizoid daylight reality for her as she goes about LA and Manhattan. These historical figures leave the plot limp for long passages until dozens of them gather at a Hollywood swimming pool in an explosion of chat, beauty, and sighs from oblivion. But where’s Allegra?
Slim plot, but film fans will adore it.