Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Fancylady picked up this book while in Edmonton for her TV thing on the Labour Day weekend. It's crazy compulsive reading; the kind of book that grabs you right away. For me "right away" meant page 4, where 13-year-old Liza Normal, our protagonist, says to her mother, "I ate a plate of dicks again, Mom," after failing an audition for a TV commercial. I want to call the book a picaresque, but I'm not sure it exactly fits that definition. The novel plots Liza's floundering course as she tries to become a star despite having no idea how to apply what little talent she has. Cintra Wilson is scary cool and scary smart, and clearly knows the seamy underbelly of showbiz and the souless people who dwell there. I got the sense that many names had been changed to protect the guilty.
When I finished it on the bus today, the last name in the acknowledgements brought me up short: "the late, great Kevin Gilbert." The Kevin Gilbert, the songwriting genius behind The Shaming of the True (which I had listed as one of the great post-1990 progressive rock albums)? I thought about it, and the connection made sense. Both Wilson and Gilbert's work paints broad strokes of cynicism and disgust mixed with humour and a good deal of joy...joy tempered with "what can I do; it's all I know" resignation about the milieu of money, fame, and massive, misguided talent that they've written about.
This is quite beautiful: Cintra Wilson remembers Kevin Gilbert.