cover image Little Known Facts

Little Known Facts

Christine Sneed. Bloomsbury, $25 (289p) ISBN 978-1-60819-958-7

In Sneed's unimaginative debut novel, middle-aged Hollywood heartthrob Renn Ivins, blessed with fame, fortune, and good looks, is unable to keep his personal life from falling apart. He philanders and makes questionable decisions, disappointing and confounding his children (rudderless 20-something Billy and young medical intern Anna), not to mention his ex-wives and lovers. On a sentence level, Sneed's prose is confident and seamless. She expends a great deal of narrative time fleshing out the insecurities and emotions of Renn and his entourage. Chapters unfold with eight different points of view, but instead of adding complexity or perspective to what has already been represented, these shifts are mostly skin-deep, revealing tawdry but predictable details, romantic betrayals, and other "little known facts" one might find in the tabloids. The characters do have their quirks%E2%80%94Elise Connor, the young starlet Renn dates and Billy falls in love with, shamefully orders new suitcases and clothes online because she cannot bring herself to unpack after traveling%E2%80%94but rarely depart from what we've come to expect from celebrities. While real-life fans may zealously follow the ups and downs of their idols' lives, Sneed (Portraits of a Few People I've Made Cry) takes for granted that readers will feel the same fascination for her fictional superstar and his private struggles. Agent: Lisa Bankoff, ICM. (Feb.)