From the author of the acclaimed Carter Beats the Devil comes a grand entertainment with the brilliantly realized figure of Charlie Chaplin at its centre: a novel at once cinematic and intimate, thrilling and darkly comic, which dramatizes the moment when American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of cele...more
The central character in Sunnyside is Charlie Chaplin, whom we first see (or think we see) on November 12, 1916, in a boat off the Northern California coast, bei...more
Gold weaves in millions of period details and facts, and characters, which is great. But the writing is just so dense, and he seems to have a deep antipathy to clearly identifying *which* of the myriad characters is speaking, or thinking, or being discussed. I kept flipping back and forth going "Wait, what? who is...more
I'm still struggling with why the characters above were included. Was it to show how the non-Hollywood folk lived? Was it an attempt to give depth to an otherwise bland story? Or was it simply, as is my belief, an attempt to add substance to a thin plot?
I struggled mightily with every character introduced (with the exception of Nanette a...more
The production of illusion, the competitive spirit of creative people, the magnetic appeal of the truly adept; these are the themes of David Glen Gold and also his techniques as a writer. Carter Beats the Devil, his amazing first novel, was about a magician. Sunnyside takes us into the early world of motion pictures through Charlie Chaplin.
It is a long novel and in my opinion it is as long as it needs to be, though some critics disagreed. Gold takes a good 75 pages to get it all going. The three...more
To say I was daunted when I realized that this book was 550 pages long would be an understatement. Given the massive length of the book I expected,...more
What is one to make of Glen David Gold’s second act, “Sunnyside,” which comes more than seven years after his much praised first novel, “Carter Beats the Devil”? As with Carter, Gold again demonstrates his extraordinary gifts – characterization, humor, and perfectly metered prose, as well as exceptional research – are not for this author tricks but sheer magic. Yet where Carter followed a story that was linear and easily deciphered, “Sunnyside” follows not one track but several. And if like most...more
Sunnyside is a similar concept - mixing real people with fictional characters, and it's also beautifully written. With CBtD, it was like a movie playing out in my head, complete with overbright colors and vignetted edges. But Sunnyside ... oh, I just didn't care about any of the characters, but the story shifted between the characters (and their only-very-loosely-connecte...more
I wanted to like Sunnyside, largely because I enjoyed Gold's use of language. His writing style is engaging and a pleasure to read.
That said, after much deliberation I reached a decision to NOT finish Sunnyside, currently being on page 350-ish. It is very much unlike me to give up on a book, but I've decided to do precisely that. The stories are so scattershot, linked only by minor happenstances, that they are quite frustrating to fo...more
This book gets off to kind of a slow start but is well worth the wait. The incident of the 800 Chap...more
How does he do it? Gold's book is a masterpiece, delivering an incredibly deep experience in humanity that ranges from the front lines of World War One to a barely-formed Hollywood to the private tragedies and comedies of life. The line between tragedy and comedy is ambiguous throughout, and I do not know which the book is. Perhaps that's the point--that life is never simply one or the other. His characters are even deeper and more complex than the e...more
To repeat what many other reviewers have said better:
The writing? The detail, the prose, the magnificent imagination with people, words, actions, and stories? All fantastic.
The constant varying between character strains that never int...more
It doesn't get much more ambitious than this until you start talking about the all-time great novels. But ambition and success are not synonymous. Gold is a very good writer, but he's at his worst when he tries his hardest to entertain. This book's most successful moments (and a "moment" in this tome can be 40 or 50 pages long) come when he relaxes and lets the story do the work. The crowning achievement of the book is t...more
As for the flaws, this book is rambling in parts. The storyline that takes place in Russia featuring Pfc. Hugo Blac...more
It begins on November 12, 1916 with a day where there were sightings of Charlie Chaplin in many places (a real historical happening). The book follows not only Chaplin himself, but also Leland Wheeler (aka Lee Duncan) a young man who witnesses one of the sightings and risks his life in trying to reach Chaplin. Leland has a dr...more