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The Confessions of Edward Day

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  • Posted September 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Surprisingly Compelling

    This fictional memoir surprised and amazed me. Valerie Martin vividly captures the life of an actor in New York in the 1970s. This was a time when actors were clammoring to get in class with Sandy Meisner, Stella Adler, and Uta Hagen, and sat over drinks discussing nothing but their methods, their motivations and their roles. Edward Day takes us on his journey to find truth in his life, and, thus, truth in his acting.

    Actors are a strange breed, and Valerie Martin gave us as accurate a portrait as one could hope without spilling over into stereotypes or hyperbole. As someone who has poured over Hagen's Respect for Acting, and Meisner's On Acting, it's no mystery why I got completely swept up in The Confessions of Edward Day. I spent a wee bit of time in New York studying acting, and I used to talk with my fellow actors, all of us in awe over New York in the 1970s. Valerie Martin transports us to that time effortlessly.

    Edward Day is on a quest in search of truth in his acting, which,, according to Stella Adler, he should find in the truth of his life. Every conversation, every gesture, every laugh, and every emotion he has in life, he dissects and files away for use in his work. If that is how he lives his life, how can that be truthful? But this is the life of an actor, narcisistic to the core.

    Even if you aren't an actor, or don't watch Inside the Actor's Studio, it's fascinating to follow Edward Day from his growing career to his love affairs, with Guy Margate lurking in the wings of both. For the 20+ years of this memoir, Ed is never able to shake Guy, the man who saved his life. At what point is that debt repaid? Beyond the actor's story, this novel is downright dark and creepy, and I loved every minute of it.

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