LILY LANG by Robert Watson


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This artful novel begins with brief scenarios of movies featuring the talents of Louis and Lily Lang. ""The contents of the films. . . are related to our lives,"" states narrator Louis, and, indeed, the lives of director Louis and actress-sister Lily are thrust early on into a celluloid unreality. Two lonely, sensitive children force-fed on the silver screen daydreams of their good-humored, power-driven, exchorine mother, Louis and Lily are bused miles into Manhattan to a theater school and spend a good deal of wintry weather in Times Square with a magician who hypnotizes Lily and lectures ambitious Louis. Louis dips briefly into petty thievery, movie-house sex, and filming with a stolen camera while shy Lily, hating acting, is burdened not only with Mother's ambition but with her own undeniable stage presence. As an adult, Louis watches the parade of the damned from his apartment in lower Manhattan, has a child by beautiful, somewhat mad Angel, then stumbles onto his first documentary. Through dependence on Louis, Lily reaches fame in his films, and the two, leap-frogging love, demands, and jealousy, survive the death of Angel and Lily's two marriages, each husband in his own way crippled. It is Lily at the last who will turn aside to a new life ""where no heads would turn,"" leaving Louis to face a movie-like existence where ""everything is an accident. Things happen. Everybody being blown around by winds."" Beautifully timed and executed, a touching work.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's