My Face for the World to See is set in Hollywood, where the tonic for anonymity is fame and you’re only as real as your image. At a party, the narrator, a screenwriter, rescues a young woman who staggers with drunken determination into the Pacific. He is living far from his wife in New York and long ago shed any illusions about the value of his work. He just wants to be left alone. And yet without really meaning to, he gets involved with the young woman, who has, it seems, no illusions about love, especially with married men. She’s a survivor, even if her beauty is a little battered from years of not quite making it in the pictures. She’s just like him, he thinks, and as their casual relationship takes on an increasingly troubled and destructive intensity, it seems that might just be true, only not in the way he supposes.
About the Author
David Thomson is film critic at The New Republic and has been a frequent contributor to Sight & Sound, Film Comment, The Guardian, and The Independent. He is the author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film and, most recently, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies. He has also written several novels, including Suspects and Silver Light.
What People are Saying About This
“Alfred Hayes has given us a powerful and disturbing novel of morality. It should also be said—and quickly too—that My Face for the World to See is an exciting, engrossing work, written with beautiful economy and the sure skill of an artist who knows what he is doing.... Mr. Hayes has created characters that are the essence of human hopes and frailty.” —The New York Times Book Review
“All of Alfred Hayes’s writing has been marked by a fine grace and finish; and My Face for the World to See is like his earlier books in its quiet control of words and effects. Grace, finish, control—or plain style—are all rare qualities in the generally verbose weather of contemporary prose; and when they appear they must be greeted with honest gratitude and praise.” —Chicago Daily Tribune
“Alfred Hayes had fallen out of fashion long before he died in 1985 at 74. Yet in the 1950s and ’60s he was regarded as one of the most interesting and original American novelists. His British admirers included such variously discerning authors and critics as Angus Wilson, Walter Allen, J. Maclaren-Ross, Antonia White, Francis Wyndham and Elizabeth Bowen, who described his novella In Love as a ‘little masterpiece’.... Hayes writes luminously about people who can’t help themselves, who can’t resist the temptations that are set to destroy them.... I first read Hayes in my 20s, suffering the sorrows and indignities of unrequited love. His books struck a plangent chord. Reading him again, in my 60s, I register that certain aspects of the novels belong to their period—the cocktails, the cigarette lighters, the fact that the men wear hats and that ‘gay’ means ‘merry.’ But nothing else is dated. Hayes has done for bruised men what Jean Rhys does for bruised women, and they both write heartbreakingly beautiful sentences.” —Paul Bailey, The Guardian
“A constant tug back to the LCD of raw humanity is one of the most striking features of Mr. Hayes’s superficially sophisticated writing.... This is an insidious, nasty, nagging book, with a bitter after-taste: but there is no doubt in the world that Mr. Hayes knows what he is about.” —The Irish Times
“In it is captured the essence of Hollywood, the bitterness which lies beneath the pleasant aroma of success and fame.... In the compass of this novel, Hayes, who is one of the best novelists writing today , has captured the ineffable sadness which marches in the van of success, has touched the corrupting qualities of Hollywood which have escaped most of those who have written about this fabled town.” —Los Angeles Times
“Deeply moving.” —New York Herald Tribune
“A small jolting shot of bitter wisdom.” —Newsweek
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An exquisitely written novella with unforgettable characters -- all two of them. Read it!