cover image The Age of Dreaming

The Age of Dreaming

Nina Revoyr, . . Akashic, $15.95 (327pp) ISBN 978-1-933354-46-0

In her cunning follow-up to Southland , Revoyr returns to L.A., this time to when Sunset Boulevard was “just a dirt road” and Jun Nakayama was a famous silent film star. Prompted by a journalist’s visit in 1964, 42 years after he left the screen for good, Jun revisits his youth in Japan, his discovery at L.A.’s Little Tokyo Theater, his rise to stardom and the scandalous events that led to his abrupt retreat from public life. Mixing real people with fictional characters like principled Japanese actress Hanako Minatoya, troubled starlet Elizabeth Banks (not the one in Seabiscuit ), ingénue Nora Minton Niles and dashing director Ashley Bennett Tyler, Revoyr creates a vibrant portrait of a time when the film studio was “a place of serious work.” As Jun reveals the secrets he has kept for decades, he uncovers new twists in his own history and comes to terms with other painful experiences he has repressed, namely his loneliness and the effects of the anti-Japanese racism he mistakenly believed he could overcome by being “as agreeable—and American—as possible.” The occasional awkward transition between present and past notwithstanding, Revoyr beautifully invokes Jun’s self-deceptions and his growing self-awareness. It’s an enormously satisfying novel. (Apr.)