CROWNED HEADS by Thomas Tryon


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This, from wherever you sit, seems to be the Late Late Late Show everyone will be reading this summer. . . all about the distinctive anthropology of Hollywood--the Hollywood which actor Tryon knew as well as anybody before it became extinct. Of course this is very different from his successes (The Other and those lesser others). Crowned Heads consists of four novellas connected only by intermittent referrals (and are they ever heading home--Universal is said to have paid $550,000 for the first of the best two). It has none of the hokum landscaped decor of Harvest Home and Lady except that which Hollywood naturally attracts. There's a gratifying intimacy with great names dropped with such ease, and there's sure to be less gratifying speculation as to whether any of the four characters here are vaguely related to anybody that was somebody when. Well, first there's ""Fedora,"" Fedora who lasted from the silents through decades of talkies, her whole life a mask as unlined as her incomparable face, surviving intact the years of cloned legends. This is a great story, qua story. Then there's the lesser ""Lorna,"" Lorna Doone, the ""all American Cookie"" who just went on crumbling through the years, looking for one man after another behind sunglasses, finally succumbing to a ""passionate engagement"" with a real snake-unlike those who had been coiled in her subconscious. And poor ""Bobbitt"" once known as Robin Ransome and now thinking of himself as Mr. Thingamabob, the child star who went on to make up selves and roles for the Peter Pan who ""crept"" inside him. All en route to the finale, ""Willie,"" Willie, once the debonair, urbane presence who with his Bee, Queen Bee, was everywhere and everything before his sudden conversion--an act of spurious grace--on an Italian trip. This led to the Chapel he created for Bee and his Gethesemane there--a monstrous masterpiece of human fraud and veneration and desecration. . . . Judged for what it is, dust to dust, stardust to stardust, Crowned Heads is sovereign entertainment.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1976
Publisher: Knopf