cover image Flicker


Theodore Roszak. Summit Books, $19.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-72831-1

This latest effort by the author of the seminal The Making of the Counterculture is a quirky, sexy, sprawling novel that comprises, among other things, a magical mystery tour of the history of cinema, an acid satire on Hollywood and what passes for today's cultural avant-garde, a metaphysical puzzle, an exploration of the psychological impact of films and a parable about the modern spiritual wasteland. UCLA film scholar and critic Jonathan Gates becomes obsessed with legendary German expressionist filmmaker Max Castle, who went to Hollywood in the mid-1920s and whose vampire and ghoul B-movies are viewed by cult fans as deeply troubling evocations of evil. On the trail of Castle's dark past, Gates and his ex-girlfriend, tough-minded film critic Clare Swann, encounter medieval gnostic heresies, secret societies, a teenage genius albino movie producer and an aged Dutch ex-vamp who practices tantric-like sex. Crammed with film lore that will regale cinema buffs, the narrative segues from its realistic beginning into a bizarre, apocalyptic fantasy that eventually spins off the reel, illuminating in the end only a very private, muddled vision. (May)