Kissing in Technicolor

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Overview

From a wonderful new voice in women's fiction comes a debut novel, written with energy, wit and humour, about finding love in the pretentious, often comical, world of film school.

Charlotte Frost, film student, is overdosed on ambition. Despite grandiose romantic fantasies, Charlie's locked herself in a workaholic ivory tower until hunky soap opera star Hank Destin enters the picture. Charlie finds herself, against her better judgement and snooty film school training, inexorably...

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Overview

From a wonderful new voice in women's fiction comes a debut novel, written with energy, wit and humour, about finding love in the pretentious, often comical, world of film school.

Charlotte Frost, film student, is overdosed on ambition. Despite grandiose romantic fantasies, Charlie's locked herself in a workaholic ivory tower until hunky soap opera star Hank Destin enters the picture. Charlie finds herself, against her better judgement and snooty film school training, inexorably drawn to Hank. Their fairy tale relationship soon turns to dust, however, after Charlie casts Hank in her master's thesis –– a retelling of Madame Bovary set in 1950s New England. Before she can live happily ever after, Charlie finds that she must re–evaluate her dreamy, elitist ideas about what constitutes talent, success and ultimately love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Charlotte Frost-film student, yoga teacher, workaholic and single girl-is the gutsy heroine of this chick-lit debut. Charlie is intelligent, independent and ambitious-in short, ready to take the film industry by storm. But she is far from perfect, and when she says, "I love characters who are neurotic and flawed and not always sympathetic," she's talking about herself. In her last year of graduate school at Columbia, Charlie has high hopes for her pet screenplay. But when her esoteric script is rejected by her adviser and fails to land her a prestigious fellowship, she's forced to start over. Distraction comes in the form of Hank Destin, a particularly inept yoga student who also happens to be a well-known soap opera star. Astoundingly, he asks Charlie out. As their romance progresses, Charlie eagerly casts her hottie new boyfriend as the lead in her indie flick against the counsel of her adviser. But when Hank's egotistical "advice" clashes with her own elitist graduate student mentality, things on the set get painfully tense. The situation quickly spirals out of control as Charlie's roles as girlfriend and director become confused, and she must evaluate her own motivations, as well as Hank's. The novel's Hollywood ending is rather dubious, but Mendle humorously and sympathetically captures the outsize ambitions and insecurities of young actors and directors. Agent, Jenny Bent at Trident Media. (Oct. 26) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Film student meets love interest. Charlotte Frost has a mental habit of chronicling her life in screenplay format-but no one would pay money to see the movie, since her life is really, really boring. Okay, so she's in the graduate film program at Columbia and the protegee of the famous Horton Lear, who thinks the world of her. But so what? Horton honestly doesn't like her latest opus, Honey and Helen, which has to do with a lesbian love triangle involving a paraplegic, a nurse, and someone else. But it's character-driven, Charlie whines, knowing that her chances of winning a prestigious film fellowship are slim. Off she stomps to teach yoga on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where she corrects the downward-dog pose of an utterly gorgeous guy. How is she, the overly cerebral child of an English professor, supposed to know that Hank Destin is a soap opera star? Depressed after a date with a doorman who saves her from a mugging, she goes out with Hank anyway, who has darling dimples and muscular buns-and he's heterosexual. Even though he, a native of New Jersey, seems to be a teeny bit lacking in the intellectual pretensions Charlie loves to flaunt-the wry literary allusions, the intuitive grasp of cryptic visual symbolism in obscure Russian films, the endless references to classic movies that have much better dialogue than this book has-Hank does send flowers and matzo balls from the Second Avenue Deli when she comes down with a cold. Charlie's astonished to see herself on the Post's Page Six, especially since Hank's last flame, a gorgeous redheaded actress, is also mentioned. He can't be serious. Wonder of wonders, though, Hank agrees to star in her shoestring-budget remake of Madame Bovary.Will it prove a hit at the Toronto Film Festival? Is his love real?Carefully crafted debut has a few funny lines, but the condescending tone grates. Agent: Jenny Bent/Harvey Klinger
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060595685
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/26/2004
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Mendle graduated from Amherst College in 1998 and is currently completing her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia. Prior to returning to school, she worked in both film and publishing in New York — an experience that helped her write Kissing in Technicolor.

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First Chapter

Kissing in Technicolor

Chapter One

For perhaps the first time in my life, I was glad it was Labor Day.

Normally, I cherish summer. I love swimming pools and fireworks and long lazy days and free opera in Central Park and the way it feels to be squeaky clean and drinking a gin and tonic with lots of lime at the end of a long and sweaty day. But there is a very good reason why no one ever made a movie glorifying summer in New York. It's revolting. The entire city reeks like medieval London. Rationally, I know that people do not cease bathing and begin throwing their garbage directly out the window and onto the street whenever Memorial Day rolls around, but it absolutely smells that way. The Hamptons are not merely an elitist droolfest; they are a public health sanctuary.

I had spent most of the summer camped in my apartment as my cheap little window AC huffed and puffed to the best of its 5000-BTU capacity. (That's another gross thing about summer in the city. Practically no one has central AC, so window units spit these foul little drips of water on anyone unlucky enough to be traipsing the streets in mid-August.) Karen, my roommate, hightailed it to her parents' beach house every weekend. Had it not been for my monumental thesis fear, I might have taken better advantage of her open invitation to tag along. But my screenplay, Honey and Helen, was hardly writing itself. In fact, it was a more arduous process than even I, the overachieving worrywart, had anticipated.

Three days before classes started, in a daze fueled by exhaustion and calcium-infused tea, I finally sent a draft over to my advisor with a note:

Horton --

Sorry to have vanished over the past couple months. Enclosed is the reason. I know it isn't exactly what we discussed for my topic, but I got inspired. Are cameras ready to roll?

-- Charlie

Horton e-mailed back:

Charlotte --

A lesbian love triangle between a paraplegic, her sister, and a nurse? You are ambitious, but we should talk.

I wouldn't say that I literally started gnashing my teeth at this reply, but it certainly incited some mental grinding. Admittedly, I had always feared that Honey and Helen might be a tough sell. But honestly. Reducing such an intricate plot to "a lesbian love triangle" was unnecessarily salacious. I liked to think of it more as Ethan Frome meets The English Patient meets any Tennessee Williams story of mangled, dysfunctional families. Having spent the past three months welded to my laptop, wasn't I entitled to wish for a reply more along the lines of Charlie, in my forty years of teaching film, I have never read a screenplay with such promise?

Suffice it to say, I descended on Horton's office the Tuesday after Labor Day, ready to win him over.When I got to school, I could hear La Boheme floating from under his door into the hallway. (Horton and I are both opera buffs. Anachronistic, I know). I knocked.There was no response. Knock. Knock.The music was approaching atomic blast–decibel level. I opened the door,warbling "Rodolfo!" in full operatic splendor (and, if I do say so myself, completely in synch with whichever molasses-voiced soprano played Mimi).

Horton jumped about twelve feet. Maybe that was a bad call.After all, I was here to convince him I had the maturity and wisdom to make a sensitive, heartfelt movie about a paraplegic. I stood there sheepishly.

"Hey, kid." He grinned and adjusted the volume. Horton Lear is pushing seventy. He has rimless glasses and a beautiful white shock of Boris Yeltsin hair and has this whole Harley- Davidson-meets-nineteenth-century-German-philosopher aura. It's an odd look, but it works. Horton could have been a contender. He made three classic romantic comedies—sort of Billy Wilder-ish—back in the sixties. But he considers film an interpretable art form. He prefers pondering and analyzing movies to making them, so he's ended up teaching and doing the occasional review for the Times. I adore him. I fully agree that movies serve a deeper purpose than entertainment. I even relish the dissection of a good film into its requisite symbolic components. But when I make it big, you can be damn sure that I'm not going to skulk back to academia with my tail between my legs five years later.

I moved a pile of videotapes and loose papers from a slouchy armchair and sat down.

"So I take it you have a draft for me that's bleeding with red ink?"

Horton rubbed his hand across his chin. "Well, yeah, Charlie, I have to tell you that I'm less than enthusiastic about this latest brainstorm of yours."

"I gathered as much from your e-mail. It was, um, curt." I began to muster my arguments.

"I can tell you've worked really hard on this," Horton began. Well, yes, that's one way to put it. Slaved or agonized over might be more appropriate, though. "It just feels a bit contrived to me. There're a lot of good moments. I'd like to say I believe in the idea. But, in all honesty, I'm not sure you've got either the depth or the experience to pull it off. It doesn't work, Charlie."

I've never been told that a screenplay doesn't work before. I felt myself recoil slightly from the shock. I wasn't ready to relinquish Honey and Helen. Wondering what to say, I bit my lip for a second, before deciding to damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead!

"Horton, listen, I know that Honey and Helen has a lot of flaws," I said. "It's a limited story about unglamorous people. It would require some unusually talented actors and be diffi- cult to direct. I run the risk of being stereotyped as someone who can only make a small movie ...

Kissing in Technicolor. Copyright © by Jane Mendle. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2006

    AWESOMENESS

    This is a really good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2004

    Smarter than average

    Kissing in Technicolor is a fizzy, fun read. The writing is smart and sardonic (unlike most 'chicklit,' which seems to assume that its readers are infantile, shoe-mad idiots). Enjoyable and entertaining.

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