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  • TITLE: Salome
  • AUTHOR: Mick Garris
  • PUBLICATION YEAR: 2015
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I thought I hated my wife. Until she was murdered . . . She was beautiful, I'll grant her that. Few would disagree. But her physical charms were forever voided by a very sharp knife.

—James Turrentine, p.7

 

Author Garris gives it up right here, in the opening sentences of this novel. But, who can blame him? With a start like that, you're bound to be turning its 200 pages. And, after finishing this troublesome-but-compelling read, it is astonishing to realize all you need to know is laid out in these first, bite-sized morsels. Later, our 1st person hero even paraphrashes Joni Mitchell—"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got‘ til it's gone"—but he should have continued the quote: "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"(1). It is the real essence here. Southern California was Paradise before audiences gobbled up The Great Train Robbery, circa 1903. Hollywood was and is the Parking Lot—with lots and lots of garages added. Author Garris knows this landscape of egos beyond the striped spaces and caution cones; he's produced and directed numerous TV offerings, including Showtime's Masters of Horror and NBC's Fear Itself. And he lives there, still.

Yes, Salome is a town in Arizona, about halfway between Phoenix and the California border. References beyond that become difficult, depending upon your version of Salome, most popular being her "Dance of the Seven Veils" for the head of John the Baptist. In his play of 1891 of Salome, Oscar Wilde presents her as a virginal teaser, hypersexed for a severed head, and winding together power and sexual obsessions from both the victim and victimizers. Her necrophilic kiss ties them all together.

Sex with slaughter.

The obvious association is with James' wife, Chase Willoughby, the child star of a famous, now defunct TV sitcom called The Crazy Frazees. "I'm sure the tits on a tweener had a lot to do with it", says Chase, partially explaining her disappointment with the glamour machine and why she hasn't actively pursued more acting roles since. Come to find out, it's true. Chase has been filleted for what she represents. Never mind that Dad got a boner when she sat on his lap, or that she was broken and PGed by one of the Frazees' adult actors. Presently, she manages a lesbian come-on—and a participation demonstration—from her newly-connected friend plus gets seriously scared by a male asshole stalking her through the bars of Palm Springs. "Like I said, it always comes down to sex, doesn't it?"(p.83-4)

Chase has been driven down by what I call the Rita Hayworth syndrome(2). It's gotta be the curse of fame and beauty. Second-hand media experience with celebrities and industry players is so pervasive nowadays, lines of reality get blurred. It's an old saw.

Okay, this ain't Gone Girl in any purchase, but it's a fun book to kick sand on next to your beach chair.

 

1) "Big Yellow Taxi", Ladies of the Canyon, c.1970.

2) As told by eyewitness Ava Gardner, Rita was at a dinner party and so withdrawn male attendees began making fun of her. Later, when Ava went to retrieve her coat from the stack on a bed, she found Rita huddled underneath the assorted garments, asleep. I guess you could easily call this The Marilyn Monroe Downside of Fame, too.

 

text only © copyright 06/21/2015 by Larry Crawford

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