Stars Screaming

John Kaye, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-87113-691-6
Ray Burk, the hero of this melodramatic, trigger-happy first novel, is a CBS censor in Los Angeles who spends his time hating his job, pitying himself and dreaming of becoming a screenwriter. Then life intervenes in a series of improbable events: his wife Sandra has a miscarriage, loses her mind and ends up shooting a man in self-defense; his son Louie exhibits disturbing behavior at school; Ray falls in love with a stranger who tries to kill someone and gets shot dead in the process. Living through this turmoil, he finds the inspiration to write a successful screenplay about growing up in L.A. As self-obsessed Ray learns the downsides of being a writer in 1970s Hollywood (he is not allowed on the set, and is constantly being asked to change the script), he tries to escape the pressures of his personal life by driving around the city, passing the time in seedy bars. Kaye paints a familiar L.A.: a small town where everyone shares a past and the so-called six degrees of separation are cut down to about two. The coincidences are outlandish and unbelievable--just one symptom of the author's inability to decide how seriously to take his characters' over-eventful lives--but screenwriter Kaye has a feeling for quick-and-dirty drama and 1940s-'70s Southern California scenery that marks him as a veteran of the lots, or at least the cineplex. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-87113-742-5
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