“Cinematic and bittersweet…[Charyn] subtly evokes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ in telling his saga of star-crossed charismatics through the eyes of an all-seeing peripheral figure, an outsider-insider named Rusty Redburn…His novel, with its multiple layers of fiction and fact, resurrects the vanished world it celebrates and explicates it in all its grand illusion.” – Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal
“If you love stories about Hollywood’s golden age, you’ll be swept up by this dazzling fictionalized account of a doomed Tinseltown marriage…Charyn’s obvious affection for his subjects lends humanity and depth to the depictions of personal drama…BIG RED is an unforgettable portrait of American film royalty” ―Apple Book Review, Best Books of August
“Charyn (The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King) plausibly recreates another chapter in American history in this affecting and searing portrait of Silver Screen superstars Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles…Charyn offers rapid-fire dialogue and slapstick action…along with affecting character development. It’s a rewarding paean to some of cinema’s greats.” ―Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Thanks to Charyn’s lifelong obsession with Welles’ Citizen Kane and fascination with Hayworth’s fragility, readers benefit from a probing analysis of their seminal films while being treated to an intimate, fly-on-the-wall look at a legendary, tumultuous romance.” ―Booklist
“The veteran author’s charm and easy sense of irony further lift this surprisingly affecting book. A novel that transcends concept with its human touches.” ―Kirkus Review
“Jerome Charyn is an American original. His prose is scintillant, seemingly without effort or strain, yet unfailingly brilliant & audacious. In BIG RED the characteristic virtuosity is present – but beneath, a tender, bruised heart.” ―Joyce Carol Oates, author of Blonde: A Novel
“BIG RED is the most entertaining book I’ve read all year. It’s as if Herman Wouk and James Ellroy had a love child, and that love child was given a typewriter at birth. This is a wise, hilarious and very deep look into Hollywood’s ambitions, dreams, and indulgences. I hope Jerome Charyn is already at work on its sequel” ―Brian Koppelman, co-creator and showrunner of Billions
“Jerome Charyn’s movie-love dances like a flame over every page of BIG RED. Like its gloriously outspoken narrator—who never existed but should have—the book is bewitched by cinema and also hard-headed about the crass, exploitative reality of the dream factory. It’s a dazzling romp through old Hollywood, and a fiercely loving effort to set the record straight.” —Sara Imogen Smith, film critic and author of In Lonely Places
It’s 1943. The Germans rule Europe, and the moguls rule Hollywood. Attendance is better than ever. Not even radio can compete with the Saturday matinee. The heart of America has become Hollywood Boulevard. And Rusty Redburn, a feisty lesbian visionary who works as a lowly servant to Harry Cohn at Columbia’s publicity department, lives right on the boulevard at the Hollywood Hotel.
Harry is worried about his biggest star, Rita Hayworth, who has moved in with the “Boy Genius” Orson Welles. He’s never had a star before Rita arrived. He schemes to have Rusty pretend to work as Rita’s private secretary while spying on her. Rusty is far more clever than Harry Cohn. She worships Orson and Citizen Kane. And thus the story begins.
Nothing will last, neither the war, nor Harry Cohn, nor the marriage of Rita and Orson. And it’s Rusty who tells their tale.
BIG RED: A Novel Starring Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles (Liveright/W.W. Norton; 8/23/22) is Jerome Charyn at his very best and promises to consume both Hollywood cinephiles and neophytes alike.
We have a fantastic schedule of bloggers who will share features, post reviews and offer giveaways throughout the month September. Follow along to learn more about the book and perhaps to win a free copy!
September 4 – The Caffeinated Reader
September 6 – Hot Cocoa Reads
September 8 – Sara’s Book Stack
September 9 – The Bookish World of Yrralh
September 10 – The Real Momma Leighellen
September 12 – We Love Big Books and We Cannot Lie
September 15 – Nurse Bookie
September 17 – We Break for Books
September 18 – Books and Coffee Please
September 19 – It’s Bibliotherapy
September 20 – Sue the Bookie