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Me and Orson Welles [Hardcover]

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Item description for Me and Orson Welles by Robert Kaplow...

Richard Samuels, a stage-struck seventeen-year-old from New Jersey, gets a small role in Orson Welles's debut production of "Julius Caesar" at the Mercury Theatre on Broadway.

Publishers Description
"This is the story of one week in my life. I was seventeen. It was the week I slept in Orson Welles's pajamas. It was the week I fell in love. And it was the week I changed my middle name - twice."
So begins Me and Orson Welles, a comic coming-of-age novel set against the background of the twenty-two-year-old Orson Welles's debut production at the Mercury Theatre on Broadway. Richard Samuels is the stage struck seventeen-year-old from New Jersey who wanders onto the set one day and gets a small role in Welles's Julius Caesar. His life will never be the same.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   269
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.5" Height: 7"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 3, 2003
Publisher   MacAdam/Cage
ISBN  1931561494  
ISBN13  9781931561495  

Availability  0 units.

More About Robert Kaplow

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Robert Kaplow is a teacher and writer best known for the satirical songs and sketches he writes for NPRs "Morning Edition," where he created Moe Moskowitz and the Punsters. His award-winning young adult novels include "Alessandra in Love" and "Alex Icicle: A Romance in Ten Torrid Chapters,"

Robert Kaplow currently resides in Metuchen, in the state of New Jersey.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
4Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > General
5Books > Subjects > Teens > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy

Reviews - What do customers think about Me and Orson Welles?

Wonderful coming-of-age story  Sep 28, 2006
I've been a huge fan of actor / writer / director Orson Welles ever since the first time I saw his terrific, groundbreaking debut film, Citizen Kane and heard him on old-time radio as The Shadow. After I'd watched all his films I could find, and listened to all his radio appearances I could get my hands on (two things I'm still achieving, albeit at a much slower rate than at the beginning), I started on books featuring the man himself.

I read biographies, criticism, and, most recently, novels featuring him as a main character, like Max Allan Collins' The War of the Worlds Murder. The latest on my list of Wellesian fiction: Robert Kaplow's terrific coming-of-age historical novel, Me and Orson Welles. Here is the endlessly intriguing opening paragraph (so much so, it is used on the back-cover blurb):

"This is the story of one week in my life. I was seventeen. It was the week I slept in Orson Welles's pajamas. It was the week I fell in love. It was the week I fell out of love. And it was the week I changed my middle name -- twice."

Kaplow lets you know right away that Me and Orson Welles is a book that is going to cover a lot of ground in a short time (and relatively few pages). I dove right in.

It is a golden age of Broadway -- the era of Kaufman, Rodgers, Porter, Berlin, Gielgud, and Barrymore. But there's one rising star who is determined to outshine them all: Orson Welles. With his "Voodoo Macbeth" (with its all-black cast) a huge success, its newly famous director prepares to capitalize on his popularity with his new Mercury Theatre (the novel features John Houseman, Joseph Cotten, Norman Lloyd, and George Coulouris among others as supporting characters) modern-dress version of Julius Caesar (with himself as Brutus).

But here I am babbling on about Orson Welles when the real star of Me and Orson Welles is the "Me" of the title. Richard Samuels is a seventeen-year-old aspiring actor and student of record (the long-playing kind, that is -- his favorite is a recording of John Gielgud playing Hamlet) who lucks into the part of Lucius in Welles' new production. It is a chance happening that changes his life in many ways, as he learns a lot about the unpredictability of creative people.

I first came into contact with Robert Kaplow's work through his gloriously bawdy parody of the mystery genre (and one author in particular), The Cat Who Killed Lilian Jackson Braun. Needless to say (though I'll say it anyway), Me and Orson Welles is nothing like that book. In fact, it is often hard to see how they could have been written by the same author, a fact I always find fascinating in a time where authors are practically required to keep churning out the same book time and again just to continue being published. Kudos to Kaplow for getting his name in different sections of the bookstore.

For a book that is being marketed as Young Adult fiction (though this is likely just because of the age of the protagonist), Kaplow shows no qualms at discussing sex frankly. In his search for romance among theatricals, Richard laments how he is seen as harmless by the opposite sex (something this reviewer can regrettably relate to). This relatability makes the reader want to root for Richard's success in everything he tries. Kaplow mixes humor and pathos deftly, and captures the period and the theatrical environment impeccably (I assume he must have at least some acting experience), culminating in a moving portrait of a week in the life of a character who begins the week a boy and ends it a man.
The Orson That Must Have Been  Sep 22, 2006
This is an absolutely splendid, riveting, wildly funny novel. More than almost any biographical or critical study of Orson Welles, Kaplan's FICTION presents the enfant terrible as he more than likely was: the young lion, devouring everyone along the way. His bluster, arrogance, cupidity, guile and wry, Sicilianate taste for vengence is all here. The older Welles was less brash, kinder and more considerate, and I'd hate for any reader to come away from Kaplan's novel imagining that THIS Orson is THE Orson. But it sure as hell seems to be the authentic Orson of the 1930s. A charming, beautifully conceived, researched and written novel of adolescent love (in the conventional sense and for the theatre itself) "Me and Orson Welles'" could not be bettered. Encore!
FINELY WROUGHT  Mar 21, 2006
Last week I discovered Kaplow's work through the Wall Street Journal article on Lilian Jackson Braun. I read Kaplow's parody "The Cat Who Killed Lilian Jackson Braun" which was a broad and highly enjoyable sex-farce. On the basis of that I bought "Me and Orson Welles" which is really a remarkable novel. Not only was it funny and fast-paced, but there was something genuine at its core: a mediation on a young man's dreams of glory. The story is lightning fast, dramatic, and highly compelling. I read it in two sittings. It's a glorious short novel: bright and thought-provoking. And it's also one of the best portraits of celebrity monsters I've ever read. Welles comes off as both brilliant and a bastard. Highly recommend this one.
pretty good  Sep 17, 2005
The narrator of the book, Richard Samuels, says he is an Honors English student. Why then, I wondered, would he make such a stupid grammatical error as he does with the TITLE of the book? Kaplow's love of, and knowledge of, the era, is encyclopedic, and this shines through. The premise is intriguing and the book well-written. There was, however, a contemporary feeling to the book: I didn't for a minute believe I was in the 1930s, even with all the attention paid to period detail. And either Mr. Kaplow or his proofreader needs a proofreader: the Mercury Theater actor Martin Gabel did not spell his last name like the glorious Clark.
A serendipitous find  Jul 18, 2005
While browsing around my local bookstore yesterday I came across "Me and Orson Welles". The blurbs on the back cover sounded intriguing so I took the plunge, bought it and read it. Wow!

Robert Kaplow (aka Richard Kenneth Samuels) wonderfully splits this story between the two protagonists, Samuels and Welles. While a chance meeting brings them together, Kaplow leaves it to Welles, the more brutally dark of the two, to command center stage as he directs everyone around him, both onstage and off. His play, "Caesar", is in fact his life, and Richard is drawn into the maelstrom as Welles deftly maneuvers his younger charge. There are surprises at almost every turn, which turn out to be less surprising as the layers of the "real" Orson Welles are peeled away. As Richard becomes more involved in his week with Welles he also becomes stronger and more assured and the book leads up to a dramatic climax that ends with great satisfaction.

"Me and Orson Welles" is a stunningly well-written book, nicely paced and told with great insight into the human condition. I highly recommend it.

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