Double Feature: A Novel

( 5 )

Overview

SAM DOLAN is a young man coming to terms with his life in the process and aftermath of making his first film. He has a difficult relationship with his father, B-movie actor Booth Dolan—a boisterous, opinionated, lying lothario whose screen legacy falls somewhere between cult hero and pathetic. Allie, Sam’s dearly departed mother, was a woman whose only fault, in Sam’s eyes, was her eternal affection for his father. Also included in the cast of indelible characters: a precocious, frequently violent half-sister; a ...

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Double Feature: A Novel

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Overview

SAM DOLAN is a young man coming to terms with his life in the process and aftermath of making his first film. He has a difficult relationship with his father, B-movie actor Booth Dolan—a boisterous, opinionated, lying lothario whose screen legacy falls somewhere between cult hero and pathetic. Allie, Sam’s dearly departed mother, was a woman whose only fault, in Sam’s eyes, was her eternal affection for his father. Also included in the cast of indelible characters: a precocious, frequently violent half-sister; a conspiracy-theorist second wife; an Internet-famous roommate; a contractor who can’t stop expanding his house; a happy-go-lucky college girlfriend and her husband, a retired Yankees catcher; the morose producer of a true-crime show; and a slouching indie-film legend. Not to mention a tragic sex monster.

Unraveling the tumultuous, decades-spanning story of the Dolan family’s friends, lovers, and adversaries, Double Feature is about letting go of everything—regret, resentment, dignity, moving pictures, the dead—and taking it again from the top. Against the backdrop of indie filmmaking, college campus life, contemporary Brooklyn, and upstate New York, Owen King’s epic debut novel combines propulsive storytelling with mordant wit and brims with a deep understanding of the trials of ambition and art, of relationships and life, and of our attempts to survive it all.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Review of Books
"Double Feature is a many-headed comic monster. Its concerns are varied; it’s hilarious first and foremost, but it’s also a heartbreaking and poignant meditation on the vagaries of art. The sweep of the novel is epic."
Tampa Bay Times
"Tartly delicious."
Christian Science Monitor
"Fresh, new, and original."
Dave Barry
"Wonderfully, organically funny. Owen King has a gift."
The Rumpus
"King strikes a balance between the grand narratives of popular storytelling—there are affairs and phone sex, jilted lovers and enraged cuckolds, budding romance, emotionally unstable teenagers, fights both verbal and physical, and of course a satisfying resolution in the end—and the small, sharp details of higher-brow, character-driven, artsy fare….The literary and the popular can coexist. Double Feature makes this point, and proves it too."
Complex
"One of the year's best debuts... Double Feature is funnier than any movie to come out this year."
Bill Hader
"Owen King has spun a story with great compassion and humor. And in examining the creative process, it's also horrifyingly accurate."
Karen Russell
“What a kinetic, joyful, gonzo ride—Double Feature made me laugh so loudly on a plane that I had to describe the plot of Sam's Spruce Moose of a debut film (it stars a satyr) to my seatmate by way of explanation. Booth and Sam are an unforgettable Oedipal duo. A book that delivers walloping pleasures to its lucky readers.”
Lauren Groff
“Sharp, hilarious, and irreverent, Double Feature is not only a love-letter to cinema, but also a moving exploration of what it means to be an artist. This novel is brilliant, and Owen King is a magician.”
Tom Bissell
“Owen King's Double Feature is an ingeniously structured novel about fathers and sons, good art and bad art, success and failure, fight or flight. It manages both to redeem and condemn the overconfidence of youth, and introduces us to a wonderfully, tragically lovable cast of characters. This is terrific book.”
Tom Franklin
“Dear Reader: With this amazing tour de force, Owen King hasmore than lived up to the great promise of his debut collection. You will fallin love with Booth Dolan (just try not to) even as you’re giving thanks he’snot your father. This is a big, generous American novel from a dazzlingnovelist I’ll be watching for years.”
Karen Russell
“What a kinetic, joyful, gonzo ride—Double Feature made me laugh so loudly on a plane that I had to describe the plot of Sam's Spruce Moose of a debut film (it stars a satyr) to my seatmate by way of explanation. Booth and Sam are an unforgettable Oedipal duo. A book that delivers walloping pleasures to its lucky readers.”
Sam Lipsyte
“Owen King shows incredible heart, humor and structural mastery in his debut novel. Double Feature, as the title might suggest, has both glorious comic sweep and poignant intimacy.”
Charles Bock
“I didn't believe the species existed any more: a fun, goodhearted and readable to the point of being addictive epic, contemporary novel. To delve this smoothly into the film world, art, this winningly into the complex mess between sons and fathers, this compassionately into life after a man has taken his shot and is no longer the talented, bright-eyed prodigy... it just doesn't happen. Owen King is some kind of impressive novelist, and Double Feature is a goddamn unicorn.”
Kevin Wilson
“Owen King has a generous heart and a devious mind; there’s no other possibility that would explain the ways this novel turns from the beautiful and the true right into the bizarre and hilarious. Tackling the act of creation (parents and children, artists and art), King writes with such assurance that the only option for me, once I finished this epic tale, was to start over and hope to experience it anew.”
Booklist
“King’s first novel, about facing reality and failed aspirations, is irreverent and ambitious. Its sweeping scope covers several generations in a humorous and cynical narrative that bounces between decades. Entertaining and thought-provoking…”
Larry McMurtry
Double Feature is a beautiful, wrenching beginning, and Owen King is a young writer of immense promise.”
Entertainment Weekly
“[An] ambitious and warmhearted first novel…King writes with witty verve.”
Bookpage
“[A] powerfully insightful and often devastatingly funny debut…. Double Feature constantly walks the line between tragedy and comedy, between love and loathing, between friendship and strained codependency, between art and what’s only posing as art.”
The New York Times
“Epic, ambitious, and dedicated to the uncontainable…[King] has a captivating energy, a precision and a fondness for people that are rare…King loves people as well as words, and he has the reach of a novelist…this is the real stuff, I think, and there’s plenty of it.”
USA Today
“The son of horror master Stephen, the younger King delivers a darkly humorous and often heartfelt work that's part ode to low-budget movies, part family drama and part screwball comedy with a slew of oddball characters… the only scary thing here is the new novelist's potential as a writer.”
The Washington Post - Bill Sheehan
A story about movies, impossibly complex family ties, and getting on with life in the face of paralyzing setbacks, it's a funny, surprising and genuinely satisfying achievement…King has constructed a frequently hilarious, deeply affecting novel about the possibility of changing, of putting the past in its place, of learning to acquire a measure of generosity in dealing with the world.
The New York Times Book Review - David Thomson
…epic, ambitious and dedicated to the uncontainable…when [King] is good—and that is often enough to make a page turner of this book—he has a captivating energy, a precision and a fondness for people that are rare…
Publishers Weekly
This witty debut novel from King, (We’re All in This Together), son of Stephen, is about film and family. Endearing, irascible Sam Dolan is a young filmmaker with a big father problem—that is, his dad, B-movie actor Booth Dolan, has a personality that’s a big problem. But Sam finds even more trouble when his first film, a magnum opus called Who We Are, is mysteriously, and irrevocably, altered in editing. When Sam throws away the only known copy of the altered film, he sets in motion events that will dog him for a decade. His horribly revamped movie turns up in the mid-2000s and becomes a cult hit, as Sam, permanently disappointed, goes from clerking in a Brooklyn video store to working as a wedding videographer. During one long weekend in 2011, Sam comes to terms with his father and his messy life—with the help of a wry and determined producer, Sam’s foul-mouthed kid sister, Mina, and Wesley Latsch, his odd, housebound best friend/roommate. King’s prose is artful, perceptive about people and their “warrens of self that go beyond understanding,” and sometimes very funny. Agent: Amy Williams, McCormack & Williams. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Double Feature is a many-headed comic monster. Its concerns are varied; it’s hilarious first and foremost, but it’s also a heartbreaking and poignant meditation on the vagaries of art. The sweep of the novel is epic."

"Tartly delicious."

“[An] ambitious and warmhearted first novel…King writes with witty verve.”

"Fresh, new, and original."

“[A] powerfully insightful and often devastatingly funny debut…. Double Feature constantly walks the line between tragedy and comedy, between love and loathing, between friendship and strained codependency, between art and what’s only posing as art.”

“Epic, ambitious, and dedicated to the uncontainable…[King] has a captivating energy, a precision and a fondness for people that are rare…King loves people as well as words, and he has the reach of a novelist…this is the real stuff, I think, and there’s plenty of it.”

“The son of horror master Stephen, the younger King delivers a darkly humorous and often heartfelt work that's part ode to low-budget movies, part family drama and part screwball comedy with a slew of oddball characters… the only scary thing here is the new novelist's potential as a writer.”

“Sharp, hilarious, and irreverent, Double Feature is not only a love-letter to cinema, but also a moving exploration of what it means to be an artist. This novel is brilliant, and Owen King is a magician.”

“Owen King's Double Feature is an ingeniously structured novel about fathers and sons, good art and bad art, success and failure, fight or flight. It manages both to redeem and condemn the overconfidence of youth, and introduces us to a wonderfully, tragically lovable cast of characters. This is terrific book.”

Double Feature is a beautiful, wrenching beginning, and Owen King is a young writer of immense promise.”

Library Journal
Filmmaker Sam Dolan has a problem: his sleazy, duplicitous B-movie actor father, big on the screen and small at home. In this debut, we watch their contentious dance even as we meet Sam's late, insanely loyal mom; over-the-top half-sister; and Internet-happy roommate—not to mention a retired Yankees catcher, a cranky producer, a sex maniac, and more. It's all about art, life, and relationships and how we learn to survive; since King is also a screenwriter, the cinematic detail should be involving and exact. Plus, there's a seven-city tour, suggesting reasonably big expectations.
Kirkus Reviews
Gen-Y angst riffles the pages of King's (We're All in this Together, 2005) debut novel. This is an often weirdly funny book, all the same. Samuel Dolan graduated from a liberal arts college in upstate New York. His girlfriend, Polly, left to live with her parents in Florida. Sam's mother is dead, and Sam doesn't much like his father, Booth. Booth Dolan has made a career out of scenery-chewing in B-movies--and doing what he wants, including chasing skirts. Sam's passionate ambition is his indie film, Who We Are, "about the costs of growing up--and the costs of not growing up. And that was heavy stuff." Sam makes his film, but the film that finds its way into print isn't the film he made, thanks to the crazed machinations of Brooks, an unstable assistant director Sam took on since he was a rich kid who chipped in big bucks. Years later, Sam ends up in Brooklyn doing "weddingography," themed if you like--Grindhouse, Nouvelle Vague or Citizen Wedding. And Who We Are? It's a cult film "playing to packed, goofy, inebriated houses," complete with the Brooks-inserted masturbating satyr and other aberrations. There are even residual checks, which Sam refuses to cash. King's characters are both attractive and realistic, not only larger-than-life Booth and disaffected Sam, but also Allie, Sam's mother, who was always cool and accepting, even of Booth's "blithe selfishness." There's Mina, Sam's wise and fragile half sister; Polly, who still beds Sam even after marrying a buffoonish retired Yankee baseball player; Rick Savini, an eccentric yet successful character actor who treats Sam as an equal; and television producer Tess, earnest and bossy, whom Sam meets as he films a wedding. The narrative blossoms and unfolds and expands, Sam becoming wiser and more likable, even as he reconciles with his world at a happily-enough-ever-after homecoming. Unique in concept and execution, with much mention of Orson Welles and Dog Day Afternoon, King's novel is winning. Superbly imagined lit-fic about family, fathers and film.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451676907
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 221,569
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Owen King is a graduate of Vassar College and the MFA program at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He is the author of We’re All in This Together: A Novella and Stories, as well as the co-editor of Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories. His writing has appeared in Fairy Tale Review, One Story, Prairie Schooner, and Subtropics, among other publications. Owen has also taught creative writing at Columbia University and Fordham University and is a working screenwriter with a script in development by the producer of Winter’s Bone. He is married to the novelist Kelly Braffet.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 12, 2013

    Solid First Novel

    Owen King's first novel attempt is a solid potrayal of everyday life. It follows Sam as he is trying to make something of his life while overcoming the inadequacies he feels from his father's career. Booth was a B actor in many unforgetable films, and even though Sam tries his own attempts in acting and directing, he works hard to not draw any parallels to his Dad.
    If you go into reading this book trying to see similarities to the author's famous roots, you will be disappointed. It is solid writing, but not in the same area as the first novels of the rest of the family, i.e. "Carrie", "Small World", or "Heart Shaped Box". It's not even the same genre. That's what makes this a gem of a first novel. Owen King shows that he can write his own characters and plot without leaning on his "legacy" to help. If you are looking for a nice read about a character struggling to make his place in his own life the best way that he can, this is a a good start.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 27, 2013

    I heard about this book from a posting on Facebook, and given th

    I heard about this book from a posting on Facebook, and given that was written by Owen King, Stephen King's son, I ordered it right away.   I'm an avid Stephen King fan (I've read everything he's written and loved every word) I had high hopes for Owen's debut novel.  Frankly, I was not let down.  This is an amazing read, and I was sorry to read the final words at the end.  King has a tremendous talent for making believable and realistic characters.  Sam Dolan comes across as a lost soul who is trying to find his place in the world.  I could certainly identify with this, and my heart ached for Sam in his self-induced suffering.  I wanted to shake him at times to try to wake him up to say stop with this foolishness and live your life.  Owen did a fantastic job with these characters and story line.  He grabbed me from the beginning with his easy prose and smooth writing.  The one thing that I have always enjoyed about the King tribe is that they are such avid storytellers who plunk down in your head and spin a hell of a yarn.  Owen King is proudly carrying on that tradition, yet stands by his own rights as a hell of an author.  I laughed many times in reading this book, and I immensely enjoyed the imagery he creates  It's a book about movies, and I certainly felt like I was watching one.  This is a wonderful, cynical and realistic book that as a lot of bite to it.  I look forward to his next novel.  It is wonderful to see and read that the immense talent of the King family is continuing on.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    Not what I expected

    Got this from my local library and am so glad I didn't buy it. Could barely get through the first 70 pages before I had to say enough. Was definately disappointed. Thought since Owen King is SK's son it would have been good but was wrong. Would not recommend this book. Sorry but it just was not what one would expect from the son of Stephen King. Maybe will give it another chance in the future but for now it isn't something I find wirth continuing to try to get through. Only gave 1 star because can not post without at least that many. For now this is a thumbs down from me. Some might enjoy this but it just is not my kind read at this time.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    I have a friend named owen king

    I am surprised that there is a writer named owen king. My crush in school is ned owen king. XD

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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