272pp, Rs 2358; Alfred A Knopf
On this novel, Memoirs and Misinformation, a multimillionaire actor named Jim Carrey, who’s previous his prime, is slumping his approach by way of a funk: the dread of loss of life and oblivion, of being alone and unloved. He’s getting few film presents, and people he considers beneath him, similar to voicing an animated character for a film based mostly on a online game. A documentary in regards to the destruction of Pompeii makes him burst out crying. Even ‘shamanic’ ceremonies carried out by the guru of a personality referred to as Kelsey Grammer, and heart-to-heart chats along with his finest good friend Nic Cage, don’t assist elevate his temper. When a lover enters Carrey’s life and he thinks his ache is gone, that he’s stuffed the Renee Zellweger-shaped gap in his coronary heart, that he’s lastly discovered his one real love, it seems that actuality is far grimmer than his throbbing expectations. And although Carrey sees a glimmer of cinematic resurrection within the type of his good friend and auteur Charlie Kaufman, and although he’s keen to subsume his sense of self into the position of Mao Zedong, even that dream seems to be vapour.
Whereas the protagonist of the novel is named Jim Carrey, and whereas the story certainly incorporates fairly a number of autobiographical particulars, conceptual layers are added to it by way of the usage of the third-person narrative and the involvement of co-author Dana Vachon, making it as chimeric as Carrey’s onscreen persona. And since there are fantasy and science-fictional components added, this can’t be referred to as an autobiographical novel; it is a fantasy novel.
Carrey and the opposite characters in Memoirs and Misinformation are principally in the hunt for redemption, varied types of it similar to a need to regain fame, love or an approximation of it, success, or peace. For Carrey, redemption seems to be like immunity from oblivion: an Academy award that he hopes to get even when in so doing he dangers dropping his sense of self in a personality. The authors write, “He felt, once more, the previous impressionist’s worry, that the throne of the self was not solely empty, however not a throne in any respect, only a creaky barstool worn down by the burden of ten thousand asses…What would a Jim even be if Jim was in the end simply the creation of a billion strangers’ minds?” That is nearly as good a passage as any in regards to the nature of celeb and the delicate sense of self. The protagonist, maybe, struggles to inform fantasy and actuality aside, a trait to which his flash-lit red-carpet previous could have contributed. To name him insecure is an enormous understatement.
Jim Carrey at a particular screening of Sonic the Hedgehog on February 12, 2020.
Right here, the fantasy-fuelled world of showbiz, which has superior sufficient to resurrect live-looking actors by way of 3D animation, appears as unreal because the world exterior. The world exterior is operating out of time, is neon-speckled, dotted with buffoonish criminals operating for president, mountainsides actually going up in flames, and, why not, alien craft within the sky. It’s a setting during which something can occur, and does, together with the Rapture. This makes for a number of hilarious scenes. As an illustration, there’s a very humorous scene during which Gwyneth Paltrow, Sean Penn, and Kelsey Grammer assemble a “shoulder-fired missile system” from a crate marked ‘ARMED FORCES OF ANGOLA’. The story, which tries to be a satirical send-up of the showbiz world, in its closing pages turns into a lampoon of Hollywood tropes. The e book is fantastical and trippy nevertheless it’s not rip-roaringly humorous as you’d anticipate any e book to be that’s related to Jim Carrey, that beloved prankster we all know and love from The Masks and Ace Ventura, and that surprisingly nuanced performer who took our breath away in The Truman Present and Everlasting Sunshine of the Spotless Thoughts. These and different movies will nonetheless be his main legacy.
One of many e book’s themes is of being trapped in a half-real, half-fake, and wholly insufferable actuality; a sort of hallucinogenic Truman Present. There’s additionally the hollowness of fame and materials wealth, and the self-obsessed nature of the world right this moment. A lot of fashionable literary references are thrown in, from The Battle of the Worlds to The Hitchhiker’s Information to the Galaxy.
To date so good, however for a significant flaw: the novel, for essentially the most half, doesn’t develop its scenes, it narrates them. It embraces a summarising method as if the occasions within the story had been being advised by a commentator. This makes the e book much less immersive than it may have been. As narrative technique goes, it leaves most scenes half-baked; they stream by earlier than they land. It’s as if the writers dreaded the grim spectre of the reader’s Declining Consideration Span, and sought to make the e book as breezy as attainable, to its personal detriment. In some locations, what retains you hooked is the name-dropping of characters named after celebrities — Katie Holmes, Kelsey Grammer, Anthony Hopkins, John Travolta. Sometimes, a well-painted scene comes alongside however this doesn’t occur usually sufficient to redeem the narrative. That’s the reason the novel left me with a sense of poignancy. It had immense potential to be an immersive weed-trip by way of Hollywood, celeb, and self obsession, which is a big chunk of right this moment’s mass tradition. Ultimately, it’s a competently advised story that would have been rather more.
Suhit Kelkar is an unbiased journalist. He lives in Mumbai.
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