IN A SCENE from Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona, one woman tells a story to another woman, who is comatose. As I recall it, the first woman describes how she went to a deserted beach with a girlfriend, where they met a group of adolescent boys, much younger than they, and ended up having sex with them. Bergman’s scene doesn’t show this orgy, only the woman’s telling of it, but it’s incredibly erotic nevertheless, or it’s eroticbecause we don’t see it firsthand.
I thought of this scene as I read Marisha Pessl’s compelling, accomplished, and flawed second novel Night Film, which investigates and problematizes the lure of stories, true or otherwise... [More]
WE’RE ALMOST 200 pages into Night Film, the second novel from Marisha Pessl, before anyone actually sits down and watches a movie. Investigative journalist Scott McGrath and his 19-year-old assistant Nora have settled in to watch Wait for Me Here, a film from the elusive and adored director Stanislas Cordova, an “amoral enchanter,” a man whose dark side McGrath hopes to expose. This particular film features a cameo appearance from the director’s son, who has suffered a vicious wound off-screen. Theo Cordova is “strung-out, half naked, eyes glassy, blood and what looked to be human bit marks covering his bare chest.” Neither McGrath nor Nora can look away, and the two of them watch Wait for Me Here until the wee hours of the morning. “Cordova’s films were addictive opiates,” McGrath explains. “It was impossible to watch just one minute. One craved more and more.”
Pessl’s novel, alas, is no such addictive drug... [More]
Maggie Doherty, a doctoral student in the Harvard English department, studies 20th-century American literature and culture.
Edan Lepucki is a staff writer for The Millions and the author of the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me and the forthcoming novel California (Little, Brown 2014).
(Photo: Bader Howar)
LARB Staff Recommendations
It’s story that is so seductive in Marisha Pessl's Night Film, a pleasure immediately ignited by a TIME.com slideshow about Cordova’s life and career....
Night Film is a novel for the digital age, but if this is the kind of fiction our age produces, then these are dark times indeed....
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