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3.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,182 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews

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

Kindle Edition, 690 pages
Published (first published 2009)
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Rating details
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Feb 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2016
Every chapter that focuses on Pickford, Fairbanks, and Chaplin is like hearing my favorite song be played over and over. It paints beautiful - and sometimes tragic - portraits of all three legends ad makes me wish I could have been witness to this moment in movie history for even a day.

Even the critic Munsterberg whose work I came to appreciate last year gets a moment in the sun.

However the chapters on the warfront did nothing for me. Glimmers might have been haunting; whole chapters seemed dist
Nov 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Wow. I wanted to like this. I really enjoyed "Carter Beats the Devil," Gold's first book. So I was excited for this one. But I just couldn't get into it, and gave up a few chapters in.

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
Charles Matthews
Sunnyside pops and crackles with cleverness. Which probably won't surprise anyone who read Glen David Gold's debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil. Like that novel, Sunnyside is rooted in the popular culture of the American past – the earlier book in the heyday of vaudeville, the new one in the formative days of the American film industry.

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
Patrick O'Duffy
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glen David Gold's first novel, Carter Beats the Devil, was a decent enough book that didn't quite manage to live up to its potential, and suffered because it came out at roughly the same time as Michael Chabon's far superior Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, against which the flaws of Gold's work became even more apparent. But his second novel, Sunnyside, is leaps and bounds ahead of Carter, a brilliant and emotionally genuine book that explores pain, sacrifice, war and the birth pangs of ...more
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ishmael Reed or Bruce Wagner fans
I just love this book to pieces. It's smart, it's funny, it isn't afraid to let you fill in dots yourself as Gold explores Charlie Chaplin's role as the world's first global celebrity... but also how others, both famous and ordinary, make their way through the absurd world the rise of Hollywood and the ossification of European politics created. I really did laugh and cry in fairly equal measure. (I'm a sucker for dog stories, and this novel has a beaut.)
Oct 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hard-core Glen David Gold Fans only
I love Glen David Gold. I love him as a witty, personable man, and as a witty, engaging author. I adored CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL and found it to be lush and intricate, with numerous plot points that somehow, "magically" reunite for a satisfying novel. Perhaps it was wrong for me to set such a high standard for SUNNYSIDE, but I know what Gold can do at his best, and I waited a long time for this novel. When I heard that it was based (at least in part) on an era I love - that of Hollywood in the si ...more
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sunnyside is without doubt one of the best books I've ever read. It took me a solid month to read, mainly because I didn't want it to end. Following the lives of 3 men - including Charlie Chaplin - in the period before, during and after the First World War, the book is packed with fascinating historical detail about early Hollywood, life on the western front, and the eastern, with romance, intrigue, performing dogs, mysterious appearances... And it's all written in a beautifully accessible style ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regularnovels
Like "Carter Beats The Devil", this book is good fun, and full of human moments. It's also really funny. My words can't do it justice, so I'll just highly recommend it to anyone looking for an emotionally resonant but very entertaining read.
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone

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
Jana Perskie
Apr 26, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ABSOLUTELY NO ONE!!
Shelves: literary-fiction
I received an ARC for "Sunnyside," and expected big things since the author had a bestseller with his first novel, ""Carter Beats The Devil." I was taken in, as were/are many readers by all the hype surrounding "Sunnyside's" publication. It does not make for a good read. I was determined to finish it, however, despite the book's 555 pages. Yes, I had to skim over parts - but I didn't skip anything, hoping for a page or two or ten, which would bring the narrative together. I wanted to post an hon ...more
Mar 19, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon-vine
When I had a chance to snag an advanced copy of Sunnyside (2009) by Glen David Gold, I was really excited because Gold's first novel Carter Beats the Devil had piqued my interest and was already on my list of books to read. Having tried reading Sunnyside, it will have to stay on that list a bit longer before I decide if I will actually be reading it.

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,
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Forced and disjointed. The storylines for Leland, Hugo and the Golod clan were forced on the reader. And the very few parts with Chaplin were way too disjointed.

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
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: allergic
The much-hyped and equally much-forgotten follow up to the 2001 sleeper bestseller CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL, SUNNYSIDE is the story of three men: Lee Duncan, the son of a feisty lighthouse keeper who dreams of being an actor; Hugo Black, a pretentious intellectual caught up in a secret theatre of WWI; and the most famous man in the world, Charlie Chaplin.

Ambitious, scrupulously researched, beautifully and evocatively written, utterly gripping – and strangely hollowed out. It's not often you wish a
Jul 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Chaplin and who can handle no plot with really good writing.
Recommended to Lindz by: Saw it in bookstore
In many ways this is a really good novel. It is really well written, metaphores are sometimes inspired. Images flow off the page like oil paint onto a canvas. The characters are interesting and generally do keep the pace going. Gold has a real affection for Charlie Chaplin, and the loving farce of the invasion of Russia is great until the tragedy of the ending, not ending in a marriage but death, as predicted by Chaplin himself. Though I have a feeling Gold tired of his Leeland Wheeler character ...more
May 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The massive scope of this book begins with a day in 1916 where hundreds of Chaplins are simultaneously imagined around the world. It focuses on the other two main characters witnessing this bizarre event, a lighthouse keeper with Hollywood dreams and a brash young Texan, both of which will end up in the middle of World War One. Gold brilliantly blends fact and fiction (and as a film historian, I can attest to a lot of the early Hollywood stuff) to a point where the reader vicariously experiences ...more
Jun 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what to say about this book! In general I love Glen David Gold, I think he's a wonderful writer and I love his attention to historical detail - I feel like I learn so much from him and I really enjoy that. However, I didn't feel entertained with this book as much as I did with Carter Beats the Devil. This book was engrossing, but also kind of depressing - I felt like it had a sort of downer overall message and there was a lot of WWI stuff and sad animal stuff and those were both har ...more
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
It's pretty rare for me to give up on a book but after 300+ pages and a couple of weeks of convincing myself that the author has a story to tell, this goes back on the shelf. A complete mess. The guy can write, but what is the point if he has no story to tell? Wafer thin characters, unrelated events and a complete lack of cohesion in the narrative meant every time I picked it up it was a chore. Gold's debut, Carter Beats the Devil, is one of my favourite books but this will rapidly find its way ...more
Kiersten Lawson
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I waited a long time for this after loving "Carter Beats the Devil" and hearing Gold read an excerpt from his working draft at the first Wordstock. This lovely romp through early 20th century Hollywood to the front lines of WWI and back met every expectation I had of it. His wife Alice Sebald has received more commercial attention, but Gold's prose to me is enchantment.
Erin Britton
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the most frustrating thing about Glen David Gold’s writing is the length of time that he has taken between publishing his novels. Following the massive success of Gold’s debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil, fans have had to wait eight years for Sunnyside, his latest book. His first novel having been a fictionalised biography of the American magician Charles Joseph Carter, Gold has continued along a similar vein in Sunnyside, a fictionalised account of the career of Charlie Chaplin, the ...more
Trav S.D.
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm laboring under a couple of mild handicaps when it comes to reviewing Glen David Gold's novel Sunnyside (which is now out in paperback). I hadn't read his popular first novel Carter Beats the Devil (although I inevitably will now, though -- too late the hero!) And, of all Chaplin's post-Essanay films, Sunnyside is, without a doubt, the one I know least well, having seen it but once, probably twenty years ago. I have however internalized its reputation. I think of it as a film of Chaplin's awk ...more
Ron Charles
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glen David Gold's new novel takes its title and perhaps too much of its spirit from Charlie Chaplin's weirdest movie, a rare financial flop called "Sunnyside." At just 34 minutes long, the 1919 film cobbled together several incongruous scenes, including some classic slapstick, a surreal dance with wood nymphs, a violent suicide and a baffling happy ending. Having already made more than 60 movies before he was 30, the Little Tramp could take a pass for this creative misstep, but Gold sees the fil ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic historical read. I have always been a HUGE Chaplin fan so this book appealed to me from the cover alone. I'm glad I picked it up because it really was an enjoyable read.

It follows intertwining stories in America, 1918 one of which is Charlie Chaplin, and from my own knowledge and research it's pretty historically accurate! other characters in the book are real life historical figures while some are fictitious but believable to have existed. With several great quotes and a coupl
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictive
Beautifully, luminously written. Glen David Gold is a detailed researcher with an ear for the details that make conversation and scene sing. His work is rich and cinematic. I wish the plot of this one had been more cohesive, I kept hoping the narrative threads would all come together and the pacing lacked some urgency. Worth reading just for the quality of writing alone.
Anna Hedlin
I just couldn't bring myself to finish this book. Not even half-finish it. I kept feeling that there was no story, nothing driving the narrative forward, just a lot of... nothing, I guess. Was so disappointed as I really liked "Carter Beats the Devil" and was very hopeful about "Sunnyside". But, no, I needed to get out before that annoyed and bored feeling towards this book got out of hand.
Sean Kinch
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gold punishes and rewards characters according to the authenticity of their spirits. Chaplin--though flawed and insecure and fickle and at times petty--wants desperately to exercise his genius in a profound way.
Shawn Towner
Dec 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sunnyside, Glen David Gold’s second novel, starts off with the type of magic that one might expect to find in his first novel, Carter Beats the Devil. That is a roundabout and inelegant (did I really just use ‘one’ instead of ‘you’?) way of saying that at the start of the novel, Charlie Chaplin is seen in over 800 places at the same time. Despite its supernatural start, Sunnyside is, lamentably, not a novel about Charlie Chaplin and his awesome powers of duplication/teleportation. While the nove ...more
James Murphy
Sep 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sunnyside has 3 story lines: Charlie Chaplin and the making of a film called Sunnyside, a soldier on the Western Front during WWI, and a soldier who's part of the Allied intervention at Archangel following the Russian Revolution. The thread holding these 3 seemingly disparate parts together is Hollywood and the beginnings of celebrity culture. We're reminded more than once that California became the center of the film industry because Europe was at war during the industry's adolescence and becau ...more
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When this book first came out, I was very anxious to read it; but then I began to read some bad reviews, so I moved it to a virtual “back shelf.” Then, as I was browsing in Half-Price Books with a 40% off coupon in hand, I saw a practically untouched hardcover copy and decided to take the plunge. I am so glad that I did. Although it is flawed, it is a worthwhile and satisfying read.

As for the flaws, this book is rambling in parts. The storyline that takes place in Russia featuring Pfc. Hugo Blac
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book that falls short of greatness, but not for lack of trying.

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
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Glen David Gold is best known as the author of Carter Beats the Devil (Hyperion, 2001), a fictionalized biography of Charles Joseph Carter (1874-1936), an American illusionist performing from c.1900-1936. He writes in a narrative style, and the book was hailed as a very respectable venture into historical fiction. Gold is married to Alice Sebold, the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky. The coupl ...more
More about Glen David Gold...
“He felt people were never intentionally beastly or malicious, but they were pompous and foolish; awful decisions were made by men divorced from their own humanity.” 5 likes
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