Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Actress

Title: The Actress

Author: Henry Denker

Year of publication: 1978, WH Allen edition 1979

Inner cover blurb: Henry Denkler, author of The Physicians, The Experiment and The Scofield Diagnosis, has now written a new and irresistibly exciting novel, The Actress.

The actress is Kit Lawrence - one of the most talented stars the theatre has known.  She is beautiful, sensitive and possesses a magnetism and sexuality which drive men crazy.  But she is a patient in an expensive psychiatric hospital having suffered a mental breakdown after several suicide attempts and a self-inflicted abortion.  Kit, we learn, is the victim of an unhappy childhood and she is crying out for help.

The Actress is a gripping psychological drama of the attempt to bring Kit back to life by starring her in a play about her own life and problems - a play that will allow her to act out the innermost secrets and passions that have driven her to the brink of madness.  Rehearsals are going well, and Kit's performance is going to be brilliant, but why is she unable and unwilling to act out the last scene?

As the tension mounts, the reader will become absorbed in the characters as a real-life drama is acted out on-stage.  The ending is bound to touch the heart, too, as Henry Denkler skilfully portrays one woman's struggle to overcome emotional strife.

Quick flick reveals: Some serious melodramatic shlock.  There's a very particular craziness you get from male authors writing primarily for the women's fiction market, and this book looks like it has it in spades.

Random paragraph: 'Winging that whole scene, from the moment we caught her bare-breasted.  Covering up only when she saw me.  Making up so beautifully just to walk back to the hotel and go to bed alone.  If that's sick, I'd like to be sick."'


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Man In White

Title: Man In White

Author: Johnny Cash

Year of publication: 1986, Hodder and Staughton edition 1987

Back cover blurb: 'Once notorious for his wild living and then his dependence on drugs as he tried to cope with his rise to fame in the American music scene, Johnny Cash, the 'Man in Black', discovered he was persecuting his own body.
   Saul the Pharisee, expert in Jewish Law and bitter opponent of the 'followers of the Nazarene' discovered he was persecuting the body of Christ when he met the 'Man in White' on the Damascus Road.
  Cash sees himself mirrored in the apostle Paul: when he came off drugs, 'it was like a new birth, a new lease of life.  My mind was renewed... I was transformed and identified with the Apostle.'
   A decade's research into ancient Judaism and the New Testament resulted in this powerful novel - a testimony to Christ's changing power in St. Paul, and in Cash himself.'

Quick flick reveals: A novel by Cash is an exciting prospect, but this very much comes from the Bible-bashing, Holy Land-visiting, Billy Graham rally-attending side of the man that fans tend to keep quiet about.  Like Cash's lyrics, the prose is stripped down and to-the-point.  Just hoping it's closer to I Walk the Line than it is to Chicken in Black.

Random paragraph: 'He moved among the people with a loving, gentle grace.  He was followed by many little children, some of whom pulled at his robe.  He reached down and, smiling, picked up a boy in one arm and a girl in the other.  He held them close against his face, rubbing his coarse beard against them and leaving them laughing with merriment.'


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Punish Me With Kisses

Title: Punish Me With Kisses

Author: William Bayer

Year of publication: 1980, Severn House edition 1981

Inner cover blurb: '"Someone rushed from the poolhouse, then paused just in front.  Penny blinked and in that moment the figure disappeared into the shadows of the trees..."
   For Penny Berring that was also the moment that would change her life forever.  Obsessed by Suzie, her elder sister by three years, by Suzie's beauty and by her flamboyant sexuality, she had been an envious onlooker on her sister's insatiable love-life.  Now suddenly all that was over, for Suzie had gone - murdered, almost certainly by that dimly-seen figure at the pool side.
   But who had that been?  Who was the killer?  Jared Evans, dark-haired, sensitive, loved by Penny and by Suzie?  The dour gardener, Tucker, whose shears had been the instrument of death?  Or... someone else?
   As the novel draws us closer and closer to the truth, so it develops an increasingly profound insight into Penny's mind.  Fascinated, we watch her delve further into the mystery of her sister's death to find the murderer.  In doing so, she encounters a multitude of unsavoury scandals involving herself, her parents and her boyfriend.  Penny appears to crack under the strain, and seeks comfort from a sinister psychiatrist with a passion for cats.
   William Bayer's is an astonishing achievement - at one level dazzling entertainment, at another an illumination of the darker places of the soul.  A major success in the USA, this novel is stimulating and passionate.  Its descriptions of New York and its life are vivid and exciting; its conclusions eye-opening and convincing.'

Quick flick reveals: You had me at 'sinister psychiatrist with a passion for cats'.

Random paragraph: 'After Penny read this passage she felt filled with sadness and shame.  There were many pages like it, tales of orgies and self-debasements, scornful references to inadequate lovers, shrieks of discontent.  The diary upset her, but not because of sex.  It was the pathos of it, Suzie's misery, that filled with despair.'