Review of A Star Is Bored by Byron Lane
Lane's story is zany and wonderful, with lots of glimpses into behind-the-scenes celebrity details--and a layer of heart and poignant reflection that surprised me.
"This book is not about Carrie Fisher."
Author Byron Lane was Carrie Fisher's personal assistant in real life, and in this novel, Byron's main protagonist Charlie is assistant to a sci-fi-blockbuster-famous actress who played Priestess Talara. Kathi Kannon is a character with a big, wacky personality who also struggles with addiction. She's Hollywood royalty, and her former movie star mother lives in a home on the same compound.
So I was definitely picturing Carrie Fisher as Kannon throughout this story. I heard the dialogue in her voice, I had a mental image of Debbie Reynolds as her mother, and Star Wars was in my mind as the enormously popular movie series that made the actress famous. This is a novel, but the spirit of the book felt authentic to what we know about Carrie Fisher's strong, wonderfully unique personality and some of her life challenges.
Charlie is searching for meaning and direction--and he doesn't much mind the social cachet of being assistant to a high-profile celebrity. Kathi tends toward outrageous excess and could use a loyal companion who cares enough to set limits toward a goal of her self-preservation. We see practical Charlie learning to roll with and embrace Kannon's spicy banter and often outrageous wishes.
The story is zany and wonderful, with lots of glimpses into glamorous (and often tedious) celebrity details. There are fun and frenetic scenes about meeting the varied demands of an enormous star, and Lane explores the characters' challenges of striving to maintain balance in an odd employer-assistant relationship that blurs the lines of the professional and personal.
As Charlie becomes more deeply involved in the ups and downs of Kathi's life, he finds himself more and more reluctant to drop her name into conversation to wow a party crowd, or to use tidbits of her life to perk up his first-date conversations. He's growing loyal to her and fully entrenched in her life, and it's not clear whether he could ever move on without hurting himself or Kannon or both.
I would have been happy with a fake behind-the-scenes look at celebrity and the star-assistant dynamic. What surprised me was how much heart and reflection Lane injected into the story to flesh out a deeper, poignant relationship. I very much cared about Kathi and Charlie's struggles together and as individuals, and I laughed a lot. I adored this.
What did you think?
I loved this fictionalized peek at life with a beloved star. Have you read anything like this? What other titles might fit the bill?
I mentioned this book in my Greedy Reading List Three Books I'm Reading Now, 10/13/20 Edition.