We Play Ourselves

Jen Silverman. Random House, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-59152-5
A playwright’s public shame and jealousy traps her in self-doubt in this mordant debut novel from Silverman (after the collection The Island Dwellers). Thirty-three-year-old playwright Cass flees New York after an embarrassing public meltdown in which she deliberately poked her nemesis, Yale senior and hot new playwright Tara-Jean Slater, in the eye. Unlike Tara-Jean’s work, Cass’s first play is a mess. A bad review compounds her sense of failure after having an affair with her married lead actor and having her advances rebuffed by the older French director, who tells her, “There are many kinds of intimacy, it’s so easy to confuse them all.” In Los Angeles, she rooms with a friend who faces an impending breakup with his Australian boyfriend, who still hasn’t come out after a decade together. Cass meets charismatic filmmaker Caroline, who recruits Cass to work on a Fight Club–inspired cinema verité project starring teenage girls. After one of the girls goes missing, Cass learns Caroline is not only manipulative but deceitful. This, plus an illuminating encounter with Tara-Jean, prompts some soul searching. While the ending feels a bit unresolved, Cass’s dark humor and acts of self-sabotage keep the reader engaged. Silverman’s genuine, stirring novel speaks volumes about the lure and fickleness of fame. Agent: Allison Hunter, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/18/2020
Release date: 02/09/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-0-399-59153-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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