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Impersonators Anonymous by Rick Lenz
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Impersonators Anonymous (original 2018; edition 2018)

by Rick Lenz (Author)

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179851,585 (3.35)1
Member:yalanda
Title:Impersonators Anonymous
Authors:Rick Lenz (Author)
Info:Chromodroid Press (2018), 344 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I couldn't get into this book. The premise sounded intriguing but the characters were flat and I never felt like I really understood why I was reading the story. Well, no, I was reading the story because the blurb sounded good - woman discovers an incomplete John Wayne and James Dean film... which is the equivalent of Hollywood's holy grail. Great premise. The only sad thing is that the book failed to make this the real center of the story. ( )
  Gwnfkt12 | Mar 4, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Actor and playwright Rick Lenz draws upon several decades of personal experience immersed in the culture of Hollywood in the writing of his novel "Impersonators Anonymous". The engaging idea of the story is the hypothetical question- what if John Wayne and James Dean had starred in the production of an incomplete Western epic film in 1955, a film cut short by Dean's untimely death and then kept secret for the next 20 years?

In this novel, all the characters are neurotic and at least two of them are apparently psychotic. Lenz may be suggesting that the American film industry, at least among actors, directors, producers and screen writers, is not conducive to mental health. The chief psychological problem troubling the characters is their unstable sense of identity. This is particularly true for the two actors who are assigned to complete the roles originally played by John Wayne and James Dean in "Showdown", which was about two thirds through production in 1955 when it was abruptly cancelled. Those two impersonators are chosen for their ability to assume the personas of Wayne and Dean and portray them convincingly on the screen, so that the "missing scenes' in "Showdown" can be filmed and the movie finally can be released, nearly 25 years after the original production.

But the impersonators who play Wayne and Dean are not simply imitating these film icons, they actually channel them, become them, as they impersonate them. The actor who impersonates John Wayne also has episodes in which he sees and talks with the "Duke". We readers can't be sure if he is hallucinatory or if something supernatural is happening. Likewise, the young actor who plays James Dean seems to slowly become possessed by the spirit of the dead rebel without a cause, until he (and the readers) can't be sure where his own personality ends and that of Dean starts. It seems that this sort of identity crisis is an occupational hazard among professional impersonators and so they have a support group for it- Impersonators Anonymous.

The novel generates a fog of mystery- why was "Showdown" such a closely guarded secret? Why does Richard Boone, the actor, reveal its existence after 20 years? How do they keep the news of the discovery and completion of "Showdown" from going public? Lenz doesn't answer these questions fully, as he is working to create a study in psychology and art rather than an account bound by facts and logic. ( )
  ChuckNorton | Feb 25, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Identity and impersonation flow through this novel by Ric Lenz. Emily Bennett has a facial recognition condition where she arbitrarily sees famous people in the faces of those around her. She has worked around Hollywood all her life and dreams of becoming a producer. Rumor of a lost, unfinished western called Showdown, starring John Wayne and James Dean, gives her the opportunity to enter that world and the world of celebrity impersonators. The life of these lookalikes carries this short novel and is certainly the most enjoyable. Who plays the role best, the actor or the impersonator who plays the actor playing the role? What can we believe? Do we become dulled to what is real?

I was less interested in the plot of the novel and the completion of the unfinished film, than I was with the lives of the characters, the questions about reality and artifice and how we deal, especially in the world today, with what is real and true. ( )
  abealy | Feb 8, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
All about the face...the forefront of who we are...at least in physical identity. This book is much and all and even more about that. A woman with a condition that oddly enough causes her to not be aware of the faces that she should know so well. Faces that are common....celebrities...those are the faces that her brain resonates and replaces facial appearances of those other people with. Then we got male impersonators who transform their faces into household names...celebrities. Things get skewed...just as things are skewed for the woman with the condition. It's all a strange mixture of odd characters with even odder stories...combined to make the oddest of tales.

A unique and wonderful read. I really enjoyed it. One not easy to forget long after having read it. ( )
  dalaimomma | Jan 28, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Every now and then, I finish a book and find myself completely unable to decide whether or not I liked it. This is one of those books.

For the first half or so, I was pretty sure I did like it. I couldn't quite get a read on the tone (was it supposed to be funny? There were definitely moments that made me chuckle, but they seemed awkward and quickly disappeared), but the story was compelling enough to keep me going.

But, by the end, I found myself unimpressed, even frustrated, by the direction the story was going. It almost felt as if Lenz was attempting to artificially ramp up the tension, like he made a list of ideas that could be offensive or shocking or off-putting and just pulled a few of them out of a hat. As a result the drama felt manufactured. The characters, particularly Emily, also felt less than genuine (what was with her attitude toward Solange, exactly?).

Still, I WANTED to like it. I loved the premise, and as a film buff I got a kick out of the details Lenz peppered throughout. The twist teased by Emily's condition was fun, and just preposterous enough to work. But it felt like none of these bits were fully realized, and ultimately I think the book failed to meet its own potential. ( )
  khleigh | Jan 6, 2019 |
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Acting isn't something you do. Instead of doing it, it occurs. If you're going to start with logic, you might as well give up. You can have conscious preparation, but you have unconscious results.-Lee Strasberg
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Chapter One: The Talent Emily had been searching, at first halfheartedly, but now with a committed determination, for a James Dean impersonator. The "supermarket show" was a phenomenon of the seventies.
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