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The Age of Dreaming [Paperback]

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Item description for The Age of Dreaming by Nina Revoyr...

Jun Nakayama, a Japanese silent film star now living in obscurity, revisits his past out of fear that an article and a potential upcoming movie role might create a misunderstanding about his involvement in an unsolved murder.

Publishers Description
Jun Nakayama was a silent film star in the early days of Hollywood, but by 1964, he finds himself living in complete obscurity - until a young writer, Nick Bellinger, tracks him down for an interview. When Bellinger reveals that he has written a screenplay with Nakayama in mind, Jun is intrigued by the possibility of returning to the big screen. But he begins to worry that someone might delve too deeply into the past, and uncover the events that led to the abrupt end of his career in 1922. These events include the changing social and racial tides in California - and the unsolved murder of his favorite director, Ashley Bennett Tyler.
Spurred on by his fear of a potential "misunderstanding," Jun begins to track down his surviving acquaintances from his years as Perennial Pictures' greatest star. In the process, he recounts the lives of several other figures from the silent film era: Elizabeth Banks, the working-class girl from St. Louis who becomes a major Hollywood diva: Nora Minton Niles, the dreamy, childlike teenage actress controlled by her ambitious mother; Hanako Minatoya, the elegant actress and playwright who serves as Jun's inspiration and foil; and Ashley Bennett Tyler, the British director whose guiding hand turns Jun into a star. But what Jun ultimately discovers is fare more complex and personal than even he could have imagined.
The novel alternates between the 1960s and the height of the silent film era. It is also the story of a man caught between worlds: Jun must try to please both his Japanese and American fans, and while he is adored by moviegoers - especially women - he's despised by public officials, who see him as a threat to American power and racial purity.
The Age of Dreaming explores the history of Los Angeles, the heady beginnings of the movie industry, and the interplay of race and celebrity. It is part historical novel, part murder mystery, and part unrequited love story - all told through the voice of a forgotten star who must gradually come to terms with his past.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   327
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2009
Publisher   Akashic Books
ISBN  1933354461  
ISBN13  9781933354460  

Availability  0 units.

More About Nina Revoyr

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Nina Revoyr is the author of three previous novels, "The Necessary Hunger, Southland, " and "The Age of Dreaming. Southland" was a Book Sense 76 pick, won the Lambda Literary Award, and was a "Los Angeles Times" "Best Book" of 2003. "The Age of Dreaming" was a finalist for the 2008 "Los Angeles Times" Book Prize. Revoyr is currently a visiting professor at Pitzer College and vice president of a large non-profit children's organization. She lives in Los Angeles.

Nina Revoyr was born in 1969 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Pitzer College.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical

Reviews - What do customers think about The Age of Dreaming?

excellent multi faceted story  Aug 4, 2008
Nina Revoyr's third literary novel is an intriguing mix of silent film history, written from the point of view of a man who has hidden components of his life both from himself and others. ....Like her previous books, it is clear that Revoyr both knows and loves Los Angeles history.
A beautifully written, absorbing novel  Jun 28, 2008
"The Age of Dreaming" is a story draped in history, a work of fiction inspired by actual events in the silent film era. But you need not be a film historian or familiar with the events to appreciate the gifts of Revoyr's enthralling tale. This well-crafted, engaging novel will appeal to mystery lovers, film buffs, and anyone who appreciates the pleasures of captivating prose and a story you can't put down. The book also offers an intriguing exploration of racial politics, the tenacity of self-deception, and the consequences for our understanding of stories---our own and others'---when we view them through the eyes of an unreliable narrator.

As with her two previous (and equally superb) novels, Revoyr brings her characters and their surroundings alive for the reader, evoking a vivid sense of place in scenes both past and present. The protagonist, Jun, may at first seem to have little in common with many of Revoyr's readers. Yet through her skillful presentation of his humanity and his gradually dawning self-understanding, Revoyr makes Jun a character we unexpectedly relate to. If you're already a fan of Revoyr's work you'll appreciate how she just keeps getting better and better. If you're first encountering her here, you're in for a treat. Either way, this book will make you eager for more.
good novel about silent film days  Apr 24, 2008
This is a well-written novel about the early days (through 1922, primarily) of Hollywood film-making. There are real characters in the novel (e.g. Chaplin, Pickford, etc), purely fictional characters, and characters who to degrees from about 5% to 95% are based on real people: it can be a little confusing sorting out what's real and what's fiction. The protagonist, Jun Nakayama, is tracked down by a silent film enthusiast. The novel shuttles back and forth thereafter between the present (1964) and the past (primarily about 1907-1922). There are elements of Sessue Hayakawa in Nakayama, but there are also major differences.

If you know a bit about silent film history, you can sniff out a major plot line early in the book. One of the people Nakayama speaks about is Nora Minton Niles, who will play a major role in Nakayama's life and the book. You might be able to realize that this is a fictionalized Mary Miles Minter, a young and popular star who is best remembered now for her role in the William Desmond Taylor murder case. I wasn't really happy about this--it seemed to telegraph too much of what might lay ahead. Why not use her real name, use an unrelated name such as Lola Lola, or, best of all perhaps, make up a plot element that is not a well-known part of Hollywood history.

So, later on, when Ashley Bennett Tyler enters the story, you know that this is intended to be William Desmond Taylor. The Mabel Normand equivalent(?) is rather more subtle. There are episodes in history which are hard to improve on if you try to present them as fiction. Keeping the names the same, retaining the facts, but describing thoughts and dialogue that were never set down or recorded makes for historical fiction. You can think of, say, the baseball work Eight Men Out about the Black Sox--good historical fiction based on fact. Then imagine a novel with the same facts, but with all names changed and the team is the Ruppert Mundys. Michener does this kind of thing in Centennial--not successfully, if you know a bit of Colorado history. So I would have much preferred to see real names and facts in the book, or else simply invent an interesting plot line.

The Nakayama-Niles-Tyler linkage forms a rather major part of the story, but there are other parts as well--the racism, the Hollywood life, the making of the silent films: these all make for an interesting novel. For some additional reading, Kirkpatrick's A Cast of Killers relates King Vidor's investigation of the Taylor murder: it's a very well-done piece of nonfiction, and there are photos on Minter, Taylor, etc. Also worthwhile is Mann's Biograph Girl: this is a novel based upon the real silent film actress Florence Lawrence. The actress, now 107 and in a nursing home, relates to some young people about her days in Hollywood, and some mysterious events that occurred, including her own supposed suicide in 1938. So--Age of Dreaming is a good novel for those who want a view of Hollywood in the silent film days.
Exceptional Quality and Depth  Apr 21, 2008
"The Age of Dreaming" is a book for readers who want to immerse themselves in history and place. "The Age of Dreaming" is a book for readers who love to learn about a different culture. This is a book for readers who appreciate the nuances of language and the well-turned phrase.

"The Age of Dreaming" takes place in Los Angeles in the early twentieth century. The narrator, Jun Nakayama, looks back at his decision to withdraw from the world at large, but more precisely, the world of silent films after a surprisingly successful early career. His realizations about race relations, the meaning of love, and the need for family are revealed slowly and subtly with surprising twists and a murder mystery.

This is an elegant, satisfying novel from a talented writer. Ms. Revoyr treats both her subject and her readers with respect.

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