OKAY, WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
First, of course, check the reviews:
Now, two out of three
THIS IS NOT A SYNOPSIS
Yet one exists. Scarily, it weighs in at 8,500 words. But it provides a pungent and finer-grained sense of what the novel’s
up to and could be forwarded as a PDF to any legitimate publisher or
authentic literary agent who expresses interest. (Notice: Offer may expire at any time.)
find here are (A) a formal pitch or tub-thump or blurb, (B) some
remarks leading into a brief outline of the novel and (C) the brief
Here’s the pitch (what you might see on the rear of the cover in the case of a paperback, or if it’s hardcover somewhere on the dust jacket):
and outrageous, THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT is the story of three deeply
unconventional young people: the big sister-kid brother duo of
Keene and Damon McConnell, and Melody’s childhood and lifelong friend
Collie Poliakevich, who becomes the world-acclaimed but finally
Colleen Clarke. Against all odds Melody, Damon and Collie scale the heights — discovering very different routes — of the same business: the brutal Hollywood film industry of the late
1950s and early ’60s, an era of both historic transition and rare
opportunity. Melody is the Kooky Girl Next Door who ironically
achieves her greatest successes portraying prostitutes and whose
personal life is one of frustration and loneliness. Collie ends as an
inwardly desolate sex icon chosen to be the mistress of a president. And Damon effortlessly invents himself as the golden youth
erotic triumphs exceed in quantity and variety anything ever
imagined on the screen.
the trio’s lives grow fatally entangled within a vibrant
tapestry of diverse and unruly supporting characters and treacherous
locales it becomes clear that although Melody and Damon are siblings
they’re not friends and the distance between them is both essential for him and deeply hurtful to her. We leave the
two farther apart than ever, but with Melody aching for the
impossible while the launch pad is readied for an even more disturbing sequel. Must she destroy him? There’s
much life in this pair for just one novel and the first finale won’t be
(End of pitch or blurb.)
Yes, perhaps high in empty calories. So stomp me to death. Yet ... “diverse and unruly
supporting characters and treacherous locales” at least tries for something a bit different. Anyway, why “raw and outrageous”? This:
sometimes the dialog transcends mere robustness. Occasionally you run
into stuff that might be dubbed psychosexual. It gets ideological.
Class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender politics are
exploited and not always in principled ways. Brutal disrespect happens.
tragedy, tenderness, slapstick, bad attitude and urbanity collide. SUN
is a fast-moving mixed entertainment for
self-confident readers who value good writing but don’t always
demand good taste.
Melody and Damon, even though to a not inconsiderable extent composite characters, are undeniably provoked by
two specific and actual individuals. Indeed, no few of the book’s
inhabitants are inspired by real, readily identifiable human beings. Certain incidents in the novel reference events already in
the public record, along with scuttlebutt from other sources. Maybe
this means the author lacks imagination. On the other hand perhaps it
doesn’t. There’s really only one way to find out.
And notice how I didn’t say “roman à clef.” Leave that for the precious littérateurs. They know who they are.
available on this site kick things off, almost literally. In Chapter
One — which unfolds in a Beverly Hills psychoanalyst’s office the day
construction of the Berlin Wall begins, and climaxes abruptly and
violently as her session goes grotesquely wrong — we see Melody start
to lose it. In Chapter Two, a flashback to early childhood, we get some
idea of why she sought help in the first place.
Also on the subject of
help, it’s helpful that the novel falls neatly into four parts, each
with its own title:
(I.) The Analysand
from Hell. Following a desperate confrontation with Jeffrey Gould, her formidable shrink, Melody experiences neurasthenic
collapse over a period of roughly five
hours, during which time she learns of the suicide of her childhood
friend and fellow film star Colleen Clarke (née Poliakevich). Episodes
from the early lives of Melody, Damon and Collie as they grow up
in obscurity in the District of Columbia are interlayered
throughout, including an account of how Melody may once have saved
Damon’s life. (Also there’s a flash-forward to the sequel in progress. Damon is a United States Senator; he decides to run
for the presidency. Melody has become a noted New Age prophetess.) Back
in the present Melody views Collie’s body as psychic darkness descends. And more.
(II.) Childhoods of
the Rich and Famous.
The fancy cutting
back-and-forth across time in Part One is jettisoned in favor of
straight-line narrative. Countless events occur. Encouraged by Dorothea McConnel (she’s the siblings’ mother, and yes, only one “l” back then) —
whose doggedness, focused intelligence and solid character we
increasingly learn to appreciate, certainly more than her daughter does — young Melody studies ballet. Damon and his buddy Mike Tully (the
product of a reverse-Abie’s Irish Rose mixed marriage) become
adolescent pornographers, albeit briefly. In the meantime they also
discover politics. Melody and Damon learn their dad’s a philanderer.
Collie is raped by her mother’s live-in boyfriend. Melody and Collie
enjoy an amateur theatrical triumph. Collie metamorphoses into a
pioneering centerfold, then a Hollywood starlet. Melody begins her career
on Broadway with a summer job dancing in the chorus of Rainbow’s End. Damon’s own success as a high school scholar, athlete, politician and
cocksman commences — the erotic part inaugurated by an encounter that’s not merely astounding but also disconcerting and in retrospect inevitable. And more.
Adversity to the Stars. Collie becomes a —
well, a star, followed
by Melody (who in the meantime has married). Both, not surprisingly,
now live in Southern California. Damon, still on the East Coast, has
already enjoyed what some folks call sexual congress with an
astonishing number of females.
Melody gives birth to her daughter Kara. We follow her unusual (for
that historical period) relationship with her husband Scott Gordon and
her palship with Dan Podesta, a multitalented, Mob-connected
gets married too but learns she can’t have kids, then divorces and finds further unfulfillment as a secret presidential mistress.
Damon, having dropped out of Columbia to become an actor, hunts down the
acclaimed playwright Rawley Polk in Florida and, after coming on to this colorfully disenchanted person
in a creative manner, makes a pitch for a film role. Back in L.A.
shoots a cop. And more.
(IV.) Means and
We track Collie’s downward spiral en route to suicide. Melody’s
frustration with her own career and tantamount-to-slavery long term
contract with the producer Lou Freeman leads to increasing emotional
anguish and actual
physical agony. Damon’s career takes off. We learn of his relationship
with Beth Goode, daughter of the iconic Tom Goode (whom — Beth, that is —
Melody roundly dislikes and by whom she’s detested in
return). Melody’s crackup in L.A. is followed by an apparently (never forget: nothing in life is certain)
sojourn at a Swiss sanitarium … and in addition to the acceptable
resolution of several important issues others remain undecided awaiting
the sequel. And more.
VENUES: Washington, New
York, Los Angeles, New Haven, Las Vegas, Palm Beach, Sicily, Rome,
Tuscany, London, Paris, the Garonne and the Côte d’Azur, somewhere outside Zürich.
CONTENT ADVISORY: Expect content.
Copyright ©2012 by Nick Mann