Based on a true story, Arthur Japin's new novel is a tale of consuming love and artistic creation that reimagines the last romance of the legendary filmmaker Federico Fellini.
In Director's Cut we enter the mind of Snaporaz, the lion of Italian cinema, as he slips into a coma in his final days. Having always drawn inspiration from the world of his dreams, he welcomes the chance to take account of his life and, in particular, his most recent love affair, with a beautiful but tempestuous young actress called Gala. Here is the story as Snaporaz tells it.
Lured by the glamour of Rome, Gala and her boyfriend, Maxim, an actor as well, are hoping to be discovered when they manage the impossible: entree to the studio of the great master. Despite an age difference of four decades, Gala soon becomes Snaporaz's mistress, leaving Maxim, guardian of her secrets and her fragile health, to be an anxious and helpless observer of her physical and spiritual decline. As Gala becomes increasingly dependent on Snaporaz's attentions, her desperation never to disappoint him leads her down a reckless path to anorexia and prostitution before the one true bond in her life is restored.
Snaporaz's intoxicatingly baroque--Felliniesque--account of the affair slyly challenges us again and again to ask what is dream and what is reality, and to conclude that the difference is irrelevant when such a genius immerses himself in his most natural element: the imagination. A dazzling tale from one of Europe's most celebrated writers.
This story of romance between a young Dutch actress and a slightly fictionalized Federico Fellini flounders on poor plotting and overwrought prose. After being reared by a demanding father, Gala and an ambiguous male companion named Maxim travel to Rome in the 1970s to find their fortune as movie stars. There, the beautiful and epileptic Gala eventually attracts the ardor of Fellini stand-in Snaporaz. Told partially in the third-person and partially as Snaporaz's elegiac reminiscences, this potentially interesting story is hampered by clumsy prose; Snaporaz's frequent pronouncements often come off as banal or pretentious (I gather strange butterflies. My white is made up of so many colors). Plot momentum might have made such stylistic lapses easier to overlook, but Japin chooses to let his aspiring actors simmer in Italy with little to do for so long that Snaporaz's and Gala's eventual romance feels anticlimactic and belated. Though Japin, author of the widely praised In Lucia's Eyes, brings together a number of promising elements, this book comes up short. (Feb.)
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February 08, 2010
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