Review | Wednesday 08 July 2009
Glen David Gold is breaking all kinds of literary rules.
His first novel Carter Beats the Devil took the life of illusionist Charles Joseph Carter and wove in thoughts on magic, mystery and impossible escapes. Gold’s second novel takes Charles Chaplin and extrapolates outward, exploring war, love, and Hollywood as he revisits a cinematic legend.
And, in breaking said staid rules of form and style, Glen David Gold may just be making historical fiction relevant again.
Sunnyside interweaves the lives of Charles Chaplin, Hugo Black, a luckless engineer, and Leland Wheeler, a would-be actor tied down by familial obligations. The novel is epically broad in scope and covers the Great War, the Russian Revolution and any number of sojourns down Tinsel town’s back alleys in it’s 500-plus pages.
Along the way, the reader is treated to meditations on fame, ambition and celebrity, all done in the author’s trademark style. Gold has a knack for evoking sympathy in even the most complicated characters, and this, combined with an epic narrative arc give the reader an enjoyable and thought-provoking ride.
Sunnyside is a strange beast: at times moving, at other times laugh-out-loud funny. What cannot be doubted is Gold’s ambition, an insatiable desire for recreating the past in his own inimitable way, creating enticing and strangely familiar worlds as he goes.