cover image Director's Cut

Director's Cut

Arthur Japin, , trans. from the Dutch by David Colmer. . Knopf, $27.95 (339pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-4062-9

This story of romance between a young Dutch actress and a slightly fictionalized Federico Fellini flounders on poor plotting and overwrought prose. After being reared by a demanding father, Gala and an ambiguous male companion named Maxim travel to Rome in the 1970s to find their fortune as movie stars. There, the beautiful and epileptic Gala eventually attracts the ardor of Fellini stand-in Snaporaz. Told partially in the third-person and partially as Snaporaz's elegiac reminiscences, this potentially interesting story is hampered by clumsy prose; Snaporaz's frequent pronouncements often come off as banal or pretentious (“I gather strange butterflies. My white is made up of so many colors”). Plot momentum might have made such stylistic lapses easier to overlook, but Japin chooses to let his aspiring actors simmer in Italy with little to do for so long that Snaporaz's and Gala's eventual romance feels anticlimactic and belated. Though Japin, author of the widely praised In Lucia's Eyes , brings together a number of promising elements, this book comes up short. (Feb.)