Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures
In this novel spanning a lifetime, Elsa Emerson goes from Door County, Wisconsin’s local playhouse to Hollywood, where she becomes the fabulous movie star, Laura Lamont. She marries a producer, and lives a seemingly perfect life, but she’s never far from the little Elsa she once was. And when the pictures change, and she is deemed redundant and old, she has to make her own third act. A lovely meditation on determination and Hollywood across the ages.
Sachi Parker is Academy Award-winner Shirley MacLaine’s daughter, and let me tell you, Sachi dishes in this memoir. Throughout the book, there’s this dual narrative of what Sachi is told is happening (the Mob wants to kidnap her! Her real father is on a secret government mission in outer space!) and what is actually happening, and she almost never gets the full truth about either. The poignancy of a grown woman longing for a mother who sent her to Japan for the entirety of her childhood made me well up a few times, and there were plenty of laughs and gasps as well. And yes, Shirley MacLaine does believe in aliens.
Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper
This is a novel, written by someone who ghostwrites Hollywood memoirs, pretending to be a tell-all memoir written by a movie star named Lizzie Pepper. Got all that? You’ll recognize a story arc not altogether unfamiliar to those of us tabloid readers who followed the rise and fall of Tom Cruise’s marriage to Katie Holmes. In this book, the male mega-star is a member of “One-Cell Studio” a Scientology-like cult that sucks his young wife in too, and you learn of their quick courtship, her pregnancy, the dark spots in the marriage, and the disillusionment that inevitably comes after all the glitter has worn off.
When I started writing my novel June, I knew I had some good reading ahead of me. The book features two generations of Hollywood gods—a matinee idol of the fifties and his two daughters—one of whom grows up to be an A-list movie star, the other of whom is infamous for her disdain for the media (and for a cult TV show from her youth called “Planet Purple,” in which she shot a laser gun in a bikini). I knew I needed to read both about Hollywood as it is imagined now, and the Hollywood of the past—specifically about Tinseltown bloodlines, of the children who grew up in that world and then decided to stay in it. These delightfully juicy books served as inspiration for my novel.
Featured Art: Callahan/Shutterstock
Author photo: © Kai Beverly-Whittemore