Skyla

Benjamin Manaster, Author, Adolfo Caso, Editor
Benjamin Manaster, Author, Adolfo Caso, Editor Branden Books $21.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8283-2002-3
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Manaster's debut novel, about a struggling Hollywood director who tries to make the movie of his dreams with a recalcitrant actress, is a sour and dismal affair. Down-and-out filmmaker Warren Kummer is approached by producer Sorel Bender to direct a script that Kummer eventually rewrites into Jocasta, a reexamination of the Oedipus myth. Unfortunately, the key to the project is convincing Skyla Conte, a self-centered former star who's well past her prime, to play Jocasta. Virtually everyone except Warren blows hot and cold on the project; each time Skyla waffles in her commitment to the film, Sorel tries to hire a different director, while Skyla's wealthy financier husband, Zeno, constantly threatens to pull the financial plug on the star-crossed project. Most of Manaster's characters are Hollywood-style cliches, his prose is wooden and any narrative tension is slowly drained by the interminable tug-of-war between the major parties. The resolution is simply too much as well, involving an airplane accident that occurs as Skyla, Zeno and Warren battle for control of the film. Ultimately, this listless effort at dark comedy falls victim to a good many of the very same Tinseltown formulas and absurdities that it so poorly dramatizes. (Mar.)
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