Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Review of "Night Film" [62]

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Random House, ISBN 978-1400067886
August 20, 2103, 624 pages.

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world
The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.

What to say about this great big book?
First, I ended up spending way too much time reading it.
But still, not as much as the author wanted.

It got off to a great start, grabbed me and pulled me into it's world. The author was a great talent for quickly creating a very creepy atmosphere, even though at this point, not a great deal of a creepy vein has actually taken place.
Don't worry, the really creepy, real or not is the question, is yet to come.
McGrath stars on his investigation, shortly joined by too young people, the rather mysterious Hopper, who, it turns out, knew Ashley from their time years ago, at one of those tough love wilderness camps for troubled teens. Seems that did not work for either of them. Then we have the more charming Nora, who latches on because she needs a place to live. Honestly, neither ends up very helpful or reliable and if are going to venture into the madness that McGrath does, you need someone reliable helping out.

But then the book fell into the very long, rather pointless middle section, a boring, series of road trips of discovery, long and short, that could have been drastically cut. Drastically.
I put the book down. I read a few pages. I put it down..I read a few more.
Finally, finally, the reader emerges, for what turns out to be a quite clever and interesting ending.
But by then I had almost lost heart.
And the desire to go on.

You may read a lot about this book in the press. It is full of all this non-bookish stuff, clippings from newspaper and magazine articles, photos, screen shoots from the secret Cordova web site, The Blackboards. I have read that in the finished book there will be links dotted throughout to web pages to explore, and as is only fitting since the book is already in production as a movie, the author has actually written scripts for all of Cordova's movies that are mentioned.

Was six hundred plus pages not enough?
Now I am suppose to spend additional hours explores the web?
Hey, I have other books to read you know!
The author, it seems, is trying to create something that is beyond a book, a mixed media..thing..and IHMO, ends up being too clever for her..and the book's..own good. Without question, she is very talented. If she were not, I would not be so disappointed at the miss. But sometimes talent needs to be restrained from throwing everything into the pot in order to end up with a successful dish. Looking to be something else, she missed at first creating a really good book and ended up with one that is attention getting but for this reader, less than fully successful.

My thanks to the publisher and Library Thing Early Reviewers for a review copy of this book.


  1. Well, I'd have to disagree. I didn't want it to end. Which is bizarre, considering how much I DON'T read in print! I loved every last delicious word and picture of it. But Rhapsody Jill had issues with it too. I kind of figured this would be a book that would polarize people. It isn't for everyone. I just think she is an amazing and clever writer.

    1. Yes, she is clever. But sometimes you have to know when to stop.
      And when to cut 200 pages out of the center.

  2. The reviews of this book are so mixed I don't know what to think.

  3. I'm with Kathy. Not quite sure -- I have a copy and will likely give it a try.

  4. Well, it certainly sounds interesting .... although I'll probably take a pass on it. :)

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.


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