The Age of Dreaming

The Age of Dreaming

4.6 5
by Nina Revoyr
     
 

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The Age of Dreaming is a masterpiece of the sort that doesn’t just seduce the reader—it leaves you transformed. Nina Revoyr deserves to be counted among the top ranks of novelists at work today.”—Jerry Stahl, author of I, Fatty

“This is a riveting, wise, and gorgeous novel.”—Mary Yukari

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Overview


The Age of Dreaming is a masterpiece of the sort that doesn’t just seduce the reader—it leaves you transformed. Nina Revoyr deserves to be counted among the top ranks of novelists at work today.”—Jerry Stahl, author of I, Fatty

“This is a riveting, wise, and gorgeous novel.”—Mary Yukari Waters

“Brilliant and original. . . . The carefully restrained voice of its narrator recalls Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.”—Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize winner

Jun Nakayama was a silent film star in the early days of Hollywood, but by 1964, he is living in complete obscurity—until a young writer, Nick Bellinger, reveals that he has written a screenplay with Nakayama in mind. Jun is intrigued by the possibility of returning to movies, but he begins to worry that someone might delve too deeply into the past and uncover the events that led to the abrupt end of his career in 1922. These events include the changing racial tides in California and the unsolved murder of his favorite director, Ashley Bennett Tyler.

The Age of Dreaming is part historical novel, part mystery, and part unrequited love story.

Nina Revoyr was born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and a Polish-American father, and grew up in Japan, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. She is the author of two previous novels, The Necessary Hunger and Southland, which was a Book Sense 76 pick, winner of the Ferro-Grumley and Lambda Literary awards, a finalist for an Edgar Award, and one of the Los Angeles Times’ “Best Books of 2003.” She lives and works in Los Angeles.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In her cunning follow-up to Southland, Revoyr returns to L.A., this time to when Sunset Boulevard was "just a dirt road" and Jun Nakayama was a famous silent film star. Prompted by a journalist's visit in 1964, 42 years after he left the screen for good, Jun revisits his youth in Japan, his discovery at L.A.'s Little Tokyo Theater, his rise to stardom and the scandalous events that led to his abrupt retreat from public life. Mixing real people with fictional characters like principled Japanese actress Hanako Minatoya, troubled starlet Elizabeth Banks (not the one in Seabiscuit), ingénue Nora Minton Niles and dashing director Ashley Bennett Tyler, Revoyr creates a vibrant portrait of a time when the film studio was "a place of serious work." As Jun reveals the secrets he has kept for decades, he uncovers new twists in his own history and comes to terms with other painful experiences he has repressed, namely his loneliness and the effects of the anti-Japanese racism he mistakenly believed he could overcome by being "as agreeable-and American-as possible." The occasional awkward transition between present and past notwithstanding, Revoyr beautifully invokes Jun's self-deceptions and his growing self-awareness. It's an enormously satisfying novel. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Tokyo-born Revoyr's third novel (after the award-winning Southland) tells a deceptively simple story about the first days of Hollywood. Through the unfolding recollections of Jun Nakayama, a Japanese immigrant-turned-A-list actor, it zooms in on the sexism and anti-Asian bigotry of the early 20th century. It is 1964, and a zealous reporter tracks down the now-retired 73-year-old Nakayama for an article he's writing. At first, Nakayama is reluctant to be interviewed, but he ultimately can't resist the spotlight. Still, considering that his acting career ended in 1922, he finds the journalist's interest baffling. As they talk, the writer's queries send Nakayama on a quest that uncovers long-buried secrets. The unsolved murder of his favorite director, coupled with sexual peccadilloes, police payoffs, and massive cover-ups, are woven into a tale showcasing human foibles and heroism. In the end, Nakayama discovers what it means to take personal responsibility and stand up for what's right. Fast-moving, riveting, unpredictable, and profound; highly recommended for all fiction collections.
—Eleanor J. Bader

Kirkus Reviews
Aging Japanese actor, a former silent-screen sex symbol, is offered a second chance at notoriety. Revoyr's third novel (Southland, 2003, etc.) is loosely based on a scandal of Hollywood's silent era. It's 1964, and Jun Nakayama, 73, is content to dwell in prosperous obscurity, monitoring his real-estate investments and hiking the Hollywood Hills. But troubling memories of his days as a controversial movie star resurface when journalist Nick Bellinger interviews Jun about his flaming youth and leading ladies, including siren Elizabeth Banks and Nora Niles, an ingenue dominated by a harridan of a stage mother. This being Los Angeles, Nick is shopping a screenplay with a star turn for Jun-as an elderly Japanese man who is mistaken for a former war criminal by his rural California neighbors. Although excited by the prospect of working again, Jun is loath to revisit the circumstances that prematurely curtailed his career in 1922. Seamlessly interwoven flashbacks detail Jun's ascension to stardom despite anti-Japanese prejudice. Jun's excitement almost overwhelms a nagging suspicion that a comeback might engender a deeper inquiry into Jun's role in one of early Hollywood's most lurid unsolved mysteries. Ashley Tyler, a British director, was found murdered in his bungalow. There are three suspects: Elizabeth and Nora, who each had romantic designs on Ashley, and Jun, Ashley's rival for Elizabeth. All three are cleared, but Elizabeth drinks herself to death and Nora is forever consigned to her mother's less than tender mercies. But the murder isn't the only reason Jun is publicity shy. He harbors a guilty secret, which the hoopla surrounding a movie release will expose. Allowing a first-personnarrator to withhold the truth until the climactic moment is a neat trick, one handily accomplished mostly through Jun's convincing voice, which Revoyr conveys in lucid, precise and period-appropriate prose. Although the pace lags in sections-notably a cross-country train tour which seems to occur in real time-all in all this is a pulse-quickening, deliciously ironic serving of Hollywood noir.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933354460
Publisher:
Akashic Books
Publication date:
04/01/2008
Pages:
330
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


Nina Revoyr was born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and a Polish-American father, and grew up in Japan, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. She is the author of two previous novels, The Necessary Hunger and Southland, which was a BookSense 76 pick and won the Ferro Grumley and Lambda Literary Awards.

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The Age of Dreaming 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
books4gail More than 1 year ago
I came to this through Lisa See's recommendation on B&N Review who said both her mother and father, with very different tastes liked this. Lovely writing--very reserved to match the main character, interesting time periods,and history. I learned much about the treatment of the Japanese in America in the early 20th century.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a lot. And I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. The writing style is excellent and the characters - especially the narrator - are well drawn and involving. I came upon this book in B&N - having never heard of it - and once I started it I could not put it down. I do not know why this author is not more well known - she certainly deserves accolades
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was deeply engrossed in this book and never wanted it to end. It's beautifully written and a great story.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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