Denise Hamilton sits in at The Elegant Variation today and guest-interviews author Nina Revoyr about her new novel, "The Age of Dreaming." Excerpt:
"The Age of Dreaming" recounts the story of a Japanese silent film star in the early days of Hollywood and forty years later, as he faces the hard truths of his past. While inspired by the story of a real-life actor named Sessue Hayakawa, Revoyr has created a compelling fictional character and breathed new life into a forgotten and little known slice of early Hollywood through her use of vivid detail and atmosphere.
Q: This book reads to me almost like literary archeology. Iím an LA native and a former L.A. Times reporter and so I delude myself that I know the history of this place. And yet I had no idea of the vibrant Japanese theater world that existed here in the early days of the 20th century. What drew you to the Sessue-type character and also the actress Hanako, whose poise, elegance, independence and doomed love for Jun inform the book?
A: I was intrigued by the fact that there was a famous Japanese movie star and sex symbol at a time of such virulent anti-Japanese prejudice. In the early 20th century, Japanese couldnít own land, Japanese kids were barred from public schools in San Francisco, restricted covenants were in effect, and various groups were pushing for the complete exclusion of Japanese immigrants. And yet it was in this environment that Sessue Hayakawa became an A-list star. I was interested in what it would cost someone, both professionally and personally, to achieve mainstream success in that context.
More fundamentally, though, I wanted to imagine what becomes of someone who stops doing what he loves.
Tonight: The L.A. Press Club is throwing a book party for LAO contributor David Rensin's new L.A. Times bestseller, "All For a Few Perfect Waves: The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki 'Da Cat' Dora." 7 pm at the Press Club on Hollywood Boulevard.
And of interest from Publishers Lunch: Goumet editor and long-time L.A. food writer Ruth Reichl sold a new book "exploring the lives of women of her mother's generation and the lack of opportunities available to them, looking at what motherhood meant then and means today" to Penguin Press...Telemundo/NBC personality Maria Celeste Arraras sold a book on parenting, "sharing her life lessons, spirituality, and wisdom garnered from her experience raising three children," to Atria for May 2009 publication in English and Spanish..."CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker sold "MR. CSI" to Collins, "covering the story of his gangster father (who suicided recently), and his journey from Vegas bellhop -- where he learned how to do absolutely anything that his guests needed, no matter how bizarre the request -- to a multi-millionaire Hollywood mogul."