The Lives of the Dead

Charlie Smith, Author Simon & Schuster $19.45 (381p) ISBN 978-0-671-70531-2
With this blisteringly beautiful novel, the author of Shine Hawk fashions an unforgettable realm, as violent as it is sensuous. Buddy Drake is a 43-year-old filmmaker with a cult following who is trying to find backers for his next project, to be based on a fictitious serial killer and his coterie. Drake's characters are at least as real to him as the people around him; as the narrative progresses, he becomes increasingly submerged in the world of his unmade movie. The balance between creator and creation is stretched beyond its limits. ``I have given my life for them as they have given their lives for me,'' says Drake, ominously, unwittingly suggesting his own fate. Smith takes an almost Adamic joy in naming the forces that propel his hero (indeed, one member of the supporting cast, a sorrowing madman, is compiling his own dictionary). Images transmute in kaleidoscopic fashion--rapidly, brilliantly, constantly--swirling around Smith's steely aphorisms: ``There was no way to tell the truth and ask for forgiveness too.'' His intricately patterned narrative, dissecting the figure and the figurations of an artist and raising inevitable questions about the relationship of author to oeuvre, ultimately questions, even redefines, the limits of invention. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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