We play ourselves : a novel

by Silverman, Jen,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 3 Libraries 3 of 8 copies
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After a humiliating scandal, a young writer flees to the West Coast, where she is drawn into the morally ambiguous orbit of a charismatic filmmaker and the teenage girls who are her next subjects.

"A blistering story about the costs of creating art."-- O: The Oprah Magazine (LGBTQ Books That Will Change the Literary Landscape)

Not too long ago, Cass was a promising young playwright in New York, hailed as "a fierce new voice" and "queer, feminist, and ready to spill the tea." But at the height of all this attention, Cass finds herself at the center of a searing public shaming, and flees to Los Angeles to escape--and reinvent herself. There she meets her next-door neighbor Caroline, a magnetic filmmaker on the rise, as well as the pack of teenage girls who hang around her house. They are the subjects of Caroline's next semidocumentary movie, which follows the girls' clandestine activity: a Fight Club inspired by the violent classic.

As Cass is drawn into the film's orbit, she is awed by Caroline's ambition and confidence. But over time, she becomes troubled by how deeply Caroline is manipulating the teens in the name of art--especially as the consequences become increasingly disturbing. With her past proving hard to shake and her future one she's no longer sure she wants, Cass is forced to reckon with her own ambitions and confront what she has come to believe about the steep price of success.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Thirty-three-year-old playwright Cass flees New York for Los Angeles under a cloud of scandal. Once there, she finds herself improbably working on a documentary film about seven teenage girls who battle each other in a real-life variation on the film Fight Club. Cass, who is queer, realizes that one of the girls, BB, who is also queer, has a killer crush on her, which is ironic since Cass has also fallen in love with an older woman, Helene. As she becomes more involved with the film, Cass' bĂȘte noire, Tara Jean Slater, a younger playwright who is destiny's tot, going effortlessly from success to success, shows up in L.A., to Cass' considerable consternation (Tara Jean was the catalyst for the scandal that changed Cass' life). Things fall apart, ultimately forcing Cass to retreat back home to New Hampshire, where she faces feelings of failure even while the possibility of redemptive change could be on the horizon. Silverman (The Island Dwellers, 2018) employs Cass' wry, deeply felt, often self-deprecating voice to tell this beautifully realized novel about choice, ambition, and revelation, with a nod to feminism in the context of the film and its monstrous director, Caroline. All of Silverman's characters are memorable as they drive the carefully plotted, thought-provoking story. Happily, unlike Cass' failed play, this memorable novel deserves a standing ovation."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "A playwright's public shame and jealousy traps her in self-doubt in this mordant debut novel from Silverman (after the collection The Island Dwellers). Thirty-three-year-old playwright Cass flees New York after an embarrassing public meltdown in which she deliberately poked her nemesis, Yale senior and hot new playwright Tara-Jean Slater, in the eye. Unlike Tara-Jean's work, Cass's first play is a mess. A bad review compounds her sense of failure after having an affair with her married lead actor and having her advances rebuffed by the older French director, who tells her, "There are many kinds of intimacy, it's so easy to confuse them all." In Los Angeles, she rooms with a friend who faces an impending breakup with his Australian boyfriend, who still hasn't come out after a decade together. Cass meets charismatic filmmaker Caroline, who recruits Cass to work on a Fight Club--inspired cinema verité project starring teenage girls. After one of the girls goes missing, Cass learns Caroline is not only manipulative but deceitful. This, plus an illuminating encounter with Tara-Jean, prompts some soul searching. While the ending feels a bit unresolved, Cass's dark humor and acts of self-sabotage keep the reader engaged. Silverman's genuine, stirring novel speaks volumes about the lure and fickleness of fame. Agent: Allison Hunter, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Feb.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Motion picture producers and directors -- Fiction.
Documentary films -- Fiction.
Teenage girls -- Fiction.
Lesbians -- Fiction.
Silver Lake (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Fiction.
Thrillers (Fiction)
Psychological fiction.
Publisher New York :2021
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description 322 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN 9780399591525
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