Saturday, October 30, 2010

10 in '10-Reading New Mexico

The Lumiere Affair: A Novel of Cannes by Sara Voorhees Despite the fact that this novel is primarily set in Cannes, its author, a film critic, lives in Corrales, & its heroine Natalie Conway (also a film critic), though currently based in L.A., grew up in France & Crownpoint, New Mexico. In brief asides, New Mexican landscape & culture are singularly evoked. However, most of the action is set during an imaginary Cannes Film Festival. For anyone who has attended any kind of festival, the madness is clearly defined-total immersion, lack of sleep, bonding with people you've only just met. For a film festival, add celebrities into the mix. Sara Voorhees has brought her experience as a critic to bear here! There are some completely fictitious celebrities such as Jacques Vidanne, a producer who plays a large part in Natalie Conway's story, but many of the celebrities at Voorhees' brilliantly imagined festival are quite real-Johnny Depp has directed his first movie, scored by Iggy Pop; Charlize Theron & Bruce Willis make appearances. This madcap romp at Cannes, which feels very real & also very funny, is a magnificent send-up of the famous festival & takes up a good deal of the action. But there's more! Natalie Conway is at Cannes to review films, but she was also born in Paris & hasn't been back to France for 25 years, since the death of her mother in a freak lightning strike. Nattie's reunion with her mother's ex-boyfriend Claudel & her research into the mysterious nature of her mother's death round out the rest of the narrative. This might make for 2 plot lines awkwardly pieced together, but Sara Voorhees manages to carry it off & keep the reader interested until the end. It's the sum of both its divergent parts-the fluffy film festival is nicely balanced by the poignancy of Nattie's story. A light, zippy read.

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