Sizzle Reel: A Novel

Sizzle Reel: A Novel

by Carlyn Greenwald
Sizzle Reel: A Novel

Sizzle Reel: A Novel

by Carlyn Greenwald


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An unputdownable queer coming-of-age rom-com about life and love in Hollywood. • "Both an irresistible love story and a riveting exploration of Hollywood dynamics.” —Rachel Lynn Solomon, New York Times bestselling author of The Ex Talk

For aspiring cinematographer Luna Roth, coming out as bisexual at twenty-four is proving more difficult than she anticipated. Sure, her best friend and fellow queer Romy is thrilled for her—but she has no interest in coming out to her backwards parents, she wouldn't know how to flirt with a girl if one fell at her feet, and she has no sexual history to build off. Not to mention she really needs to focus her energy on escaping her emotionally-abusive-but-that’s-Hollywood talent manager boss and actually get working under a real director of photography anyway.

When she meets twenty-eight-year-old A-list actress Valeria Sullivan around the office, Luna thinks she’s found her solution. She'll use Valeria's interest in her cinematography to get a PA job on the set of Valeria's directorial debut—and if Valeria is as gay as Luna suspects, and she happens to be Luna's route to losing her virginity, too . . . well, that's just an added bonus. Enlisting Romy’s help, Luna starts the juggling act of her life—impress Valeria’s DP to get another job after this one, get as close to Valeria as possible, and help Romy with her own career moves.

But when Valeria begins to reciprocate romantic interest in Luna, the act begins to crumble—straining her relationship with Romy and leaving her job prospects precarious. Now Luna has to figure out if she can she fulfill her dreams as a filmmaker, keep her best friend, and get the girl. . . or if she’s destined to end up on the cutting room floor.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593468197
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/18/2023
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 273,653
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

CARLYN GREENWALD writes romantic and thrilling page-turners for teens and adults. A film school graduate and former Hollywood lackey, she now works in publishing. She resides in Los Angeles, mourning ArcLight Cinemas and soaking in the sun with her dogs. Find her online on Twitter @CarlynGreenwald and Instagram @carlyn_gee.

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

As I make my hour-­long commute to work, I convince myself that the reason it was mildly difficult to come out to my therapist is because she looks like Rachel Brosnahan. Which, yeah, doesn’t make much sense without context, and who’s to say my brain’s working at seven in the fucking morning as I inch along the slog of Vermont Avenue, longing for the respite of the equally-­as-­red stretch on Wilshire Boulevard? In fact, I can confirm it is not. I’m not even really listening to the Jenny Nicholson podcast I clicked on an hour ago.

Facts: Beverly Hills is seven miles from my apartment. My therapist looks exactly like Rachel Brosnahan. I’ve been officially identifying as bisexual for four days.

Four days, and I’m already a bisexual disaster. Or, rather, I became a bisexual disaster the moment I came out to Julia. Imagine for a moment the bright lighting of a therapist’s office a block from the beach, with sun spilling in from the east because some clown didn’t put the windows in the office facing the beach. We’re doing a P.O.V. shot; Julia’s perfectly centered horizontally but shifted up a little vertically to suggest her slight authority over me, a slight authority we don’t talk about.

I’m bisexual, I say. Camera tight on me, Julia off camera.

That’s great! she replies. When did you figure it out?

I reply with: While watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

We quick cut to Julia’s face and—

Even running the story through my head, my cheeks still go hot with the memory. I knock my air-­conditioning up a notch. Everything’s fine. Coming out has been fine. The Julia–­Rachel Brosnahan story is the kind of shit my best friends, Romy and Wyatt, will lap up like, well, like stressed-­out Hollywood assistants lap up hard liquor after work. And yes, I can tell them this specific story because they’re the next people I’m going to come out to.

Just as I reach perfect homeostasis from the air-­conditioning against the sizzling heat of Los Angeles in June, I’m tapping my employee card against the reader in the parking garage and locking away my freedom and sanity, along with an emergency change of clothing. I take my daily last longing look at my parked car, wishing I could crawl back to bed. But alas, I’m twenty-­four, nearly two years out of college, and a Working Professional. A true old Gen Z with a let death take me aesthetic.

Slater Management is what Hollywood calls “boutique,” which really just means we don’t have enough clients to take up a whole building. We take up three levels: lobby/café/copy room, literary managers, talent managers. We’re successful enough to have perks like a café but small enough that I know the name of every­one I pass as I walk through the floors.

I drop into my chair at eight fifty a.m., ten minutes before my boss, Alice, will be in. Or expects to be in. She’s never on time. So, at the very least, I’m given a few minutes to reassess the scene. Slater has provided us with quickly declining Macs, headsets, and ancient office phones that don’t even have caller I.D.—the Let’s Push My Blood Pressure Up to 181/121 Trio. I start my deep breathing and do my standard morning routine: open up the digital Rolodex, click open Alice’s call log, open email, headset on. Alice has a client coming in today. His name’s John, and he’s a director of midbudget films that people know of without knowing his actual name.

“Jesus, Luna, you gotta stop doing coke every Sunday,” Wyatt Rosenthal, one of the two people I’m going to come out to next, says as he plops into his seat beside me.

While the six talent managers have their own offices separated from us by wall-­to-­wall glass, the assistants are all crunched on to one communal pod desk. Great for socializing, bad if you want to cry without five other people (and a straggling manager or two) having to force themselves to look away from you.

“Are you implying I look like shit?” I reply, softening the jab with my best attempt at a smile.

“Just tired.”

I resist the urge to look at myself in my phone camera. I keep makeup minimal for work because like hell can I properly put on liquid eyeliner at six a.m. But apparently it’s not covering up the bags under my eyes.

I give Wyatt a once-­over. He’s got a Sigma Alpha Mu, Jewish pretty-­boy look. Wavy honey-­brown hair, full eyebrows, ears that stick out just enough to be called cute, orthodontics-­corrected teeth. The type of boy my Jewish parents are in loooove with. “I like to think I’d look worse if I were doing all that cocaine.”

Wyatt chuckles. “I mean, around here, I’m sure there’s someone who does.”

Our brief conversation jolts to an end with the shrill ring of Wyatt’s phone. He picks it up in a perfect swooping motion, like how basketball players are taught to make free throws. “Steven Wells’s office.”

Everyone in the pod has answered each other’s phones at least once because of everything from sudden family emergencies to secret job interviews to having to pee. So it was inevitable that I’d have covered Wyatt’s desk at least once. And Wyatt’s boss . . . is fine, I guess. He makes Wyatt get him exactly eight chicken sausages from the café every morning and once called Wyatt at three a.m. saying he was lost in the Charles de Gaulle Airport and needed Wyatt to navigate him to his gate.

“Can we return?” Wyatt asks. Once the phone’s hung up, he turns right back to me.

“How was your weekend?” I ask. My eyelids are already growing heavy, and Alice isn’t even here yet. I’m gonna need coffee stat. To think I didn’t even drink tea before this job.

Wyatt shrugs, readjusting a rolled-­up sleeve on his pink button-­down, the loudest piece of clothing he owns. “Eh, pretty boring. Went on another Hinge date.”

It shouldn’t—god, it shouldn’t—but “Hinge” sends a snap of panic through my stomach. As it has in the six months since Wyatt and I broke up after dating for a whopping three weeks. My little brother, Noam, has joked that my parents mourned my and Wyatt’s relationship more than I ever did, but the feeling in my gut isn’t encouraging.

“How’d it go?” I ask, not a single negative emotion in my voice.

I’m the one who broke up with him. We agreed to be friends in order to keep our trio together. No drama has ensued since.

Wyatt shrugs. “I don’t think I’ll see her again. There’s just never anything interesting about these random girls.”

I’ve been mildly annoyed by Wyatt’s casualness in regard to his dating life before, and yes, in my four days as a woman [who] loves women (w.l.w.) I’ve become more offended by it. But, again, he’s my friend. He’s just ignorant.

“Maybe if you went on more than two dates with these girls, you’d give them time to open up.”

And in the perfect synchrony that is Alice Dadamo’s ability to surprise me with her entrances when I’m about to initiate substantial conversation, my boss flies through the assistant pod in her Jimmy Choos. Her first words to me are “Go get John at ten!”

I diligently roll through our owed calls, which is usually this dozen-­name-­long list of executives/agents/clients who (1) called the day before and (2) Alice didn’t want to talk to but (3) has to talk to in order to maintain her reputation. We manage to make it through three calls before Kiki from reception says John’s here. I make sure my headset is still working and then dip down the stairs and into the lobby.

John manspreads as far as a human possibly can in a T-­shirt and shorts that may or may not have a hole in the crotch, but I refuse to look back after one horrifying glimpse. He’s definitely Alice’s grubbiest client, and she’ll be complaining about him to me once he leaves. He’s flanked by two Chihuahua-­like college kids in ill-­fitting suits who are clutching résumés and mouthing answers to potential interview questions.

“Hi, John,” I say in my peppiest voice.

At least I’m not interviewing for internships or bottom-­of-­the-­barrel substitution-­for-­the-­day assistant (coined “floater”) gigs.

“Hi, Lacy,” John replies.

I’ve lost the instinct to wince at this point.

“Would you like anything to drink?” I ask as we ascend our first flight of stairs.

Most clients ask for water, maybe the shitty coffee we keep on our floor.

“I’ll get a latte from the café,” John says.


I exhale, lead John up to Alice, and jog back down to the café, otherwise known as the chillest part of this stress machine of a building. And bless, right now there isn’t even a line. Just Romy Fonseca, the last but best part of the Luna-­Wyatt-­Romy trio.

Wyatt, Romy, and I all met freshman year at U.S.C. in Intro to Cinema, this blanket requirement for my film production major and Wyatt’s business in cinematic arts minor, and an option for Romy’s “multimedia narrative studies” major. Some asshole was taunting her about how she dressed in section, saying she’d never attract men that way. I was emboldened from taking too much of an herbal antianxiety supplement, so I threw my arm around her and said she wasn’t trying to attract guys. The asshole backed off within seconds and I lost my passionflower high within a few minutes, but our friendship remains unbreakable.

Romy has since become my roommate of five years, two of which have been spent in our own apartment that we had to have our credit scores checked to nail down. We’re with each other all the time, but seeing her familiar face is still one of the best parts of working at this place. I slide up to the counter.

“John needs a latte,” I say.

Romy looks up and smiles. The perfect eyeliner around her green eyes and her rose-­covered cupid’s lips just confirm what a different job could do for me. If Wyatt is a Jewish frat boy and I’m a quirky aspiring filmmaker lady, Romy is our slick and stylish nonbinary accomplice, all ripped jeans, patch-­covered jackets, ring-­lined fingers, and sleeve-­peeking tattoos, with this hipster, volume-­up-­top, short-­on-­the-­sides dark hair that makes men look like douchebags but just makes her look like she’ll steal your girlfriend. She has one streak up top that’s usually colored, but I guess she’s left it at bleached out. The lack of color is usually a sign she had to go to a relative’s birthday party over the weekend—both her Barcelona side of the family and her Waspy Boston-­transplant side of the family have begged her to dye it back to a natural color.

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