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Let's All Kill Constanceby Ray Bradbury
Synopses & Reviews
On a dismal evening, an unnamed writer in Venice, California, answers a furious pounding at his beachfront bungalow door — and once again admits a dangerous icon into his life. Constance Rattigan, an aging, once-glamorous Hollywood star, stands soaked and shivering in his foyer, clutching two anonymously delivered books that have sent her running in fear from something she dares not acknowledge: twin lists of the Tinseltown dead and soon-to-be dead . . . with Constance's name included among them.
And, just as suddenly, she vanishes into the stormy night, leaving the narrator with her macabre "gifts" and an unshakable determination to get to the root of the actress's grand terror.
So begins an odyssey as dark as it is wondrous, as the writer sets off in a broken-down jalopy with his irascible sidekick, Crumley, to sift through the ashes of a bygone Hollywood. But a world that once sparkled with larger- than-life luminaries — Dietrich, Valentino, Harlow — is now a graveyard of ghosts and secrets. Each twisted road our heroes travel leads to grim shrines and shattered dreams — a remote cabin where history is preserved in mountains of yellowed newsprint; a cathedral where sinners hold sway; a forgotten projection booth where the past lives eternally on in an endless loop of cinematic youth and beauty. And always the road turns back to lost filmdom's temple, a fading movie palace called Grauman's Chinese, and to the murky hidden catacombs beneath.
Prepare yourself for a mystery as enthralling as the most well-crafted whodunit; a satire as keen as the edge of a straight razor, a phantasmagoric celebration of a lost world built on equal parts dream and nightmare — the latest fantastic flight of glorious imagination by Ray Bradbury, the one and only.
"Bradbury, a legend in his own time, seems never to run out of creative inspiration....[A] whirlwind of staccato dialogue, puns and references to old Hollywood and Chandler-era L.A. noir. Bradbury's giddy pleasure is infectious; though he throws in an unexpected conclusion, it's the author's exuberant voice more than the mystery itself that will have readers hooked." Publishers Weekly
"The story is high camp, almost a parody of Sunset Boulevard....A very odd, almost ludicrous book, but worth inclusion for the Bradbury canon." Connie Fletcher, Booklist
"SF legend Bradbury miraculously produces a solution that honors both the mystery formula and his own deeper roots in fantasy. Only one question remains: Has the superheated prose on display here finally caught up with the postmodernism of Don Webb's pastiches, or has postmodernism caught up with the prophetic Bradbury? Tune in next week." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]tmospheric noir....Though professing to be a mystery, this book is more about mood than plot, raising larger questions of identity while providing loving descriptions of crepuscular Hollywood landmarks and citizens. The staccato writing style even reflects screen dialog, and Bradbury draws on his adolescence in California to add authenticity." Library Journal
"There is a saying that the Golden Age of Science Fiction was when its readers were 13 years old. Perhaps the Golden Age of Hollywood was when the people making movies seemed like magical figures from a fabulous universe. Ray Bradbury does a nice job of bringing some of those amazing creatures back to the screen." The New York Times
The author of more than 100 books, Ray Bradbury has written but two mystery novels ? Death Is a Lonely Business and A Graveyard for Lunatics, both set in 1950s Venice, CA, and narrated by a young screenwriter. Now the screenwriter isn't so green, but mystery and murder still abound in this third Bradbury noir tale ? the story of an aging movie queen marked for death, and the screenwriter and his trusted sidekick, detective Elmo Crumley, who try to save her. Shaped by Bradbury's unique, magical vision, Let's All Kill Constance re-creates the waning days of Hollywood glamour, a time when movie stars loomed larger than life itself.
The author of 100 books, Ray Bradbury has written but two mystery novels — Death is a Lonely Business and A Graveyard for Lunatics, both set in 1950s Venice, CA., and narrated by a young screenwriter. Now the screenwriter isn' t so green anymore, but mystery and murder still abound in this, the third of Bradbury' s noir tales. It was a dark and stormy night when Constance Rattigan, a once-beautiful screen star frantically knocks on the narrator' s bungalow door. In her clenched hands are two tattered phone books filled with names of long-dead Hollywood personalities. A few of those listed are still alive — but each one of those entries has a red cross marked next to it. Who, Constance asks, could have sent these Books of the Dead to her-- and why? Enlisting the aid of his trusted sidekick, detective Elmo Crumley, the pair sets out to unravel the mystery, taking readers on a tour of the waning days of Hollywood glamour, when stars and their pictures loomed larger than life itself.
About the Author
Ray Bradbury, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet, was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938.Although his formal education ended there, he became a "student of life," selling newspapers on L.A. street corners from 1938 to 1942, spending his nights in the public library and his days at the typewriter.He became a full-time writer in 1943, and contributed numerous short stories to periodicals before publishing a collection of them, Dark Carnival, in 1947.
His reputation as a writer of courage and vision was established with the publication of The Martian Chronicles in 1950, which describes the first attempts of Earth people to conquer and colonize Mars, and the unintended consequences.Next came The Illustrated Man and then, in 1953, Fahrenheit 451, which many consider to be Bradbury?s masterpiece, a scathing indictment of censorship set in a future world where the written word is forbidden.In an attempt to salvage their history and culture, a group of rebels memorize entire works of literature and philosophy as their books are burned by the totalitarian state.Other works include The October Country, Dandelion Wine, A Medicine for Melancholy, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I Sing the Body Electric!, Quicker Than the Eye, and Driving Blind.In all, Bradbury has published more than thirty books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, and plays.His short stories have appeared in more than 1,000 school curriculum "recommended reading" anthologies.Mr. Bradbury?s eagerly awaited new novel, From the Dust Returned, will be published by William Morrow at Halloween 2001.Morrow will release One More For the Road, a new collection Bradbury stories, at Christmas 2001.
Ray Bradbury?s work has been included in four Best American Short Story collections. He has been awarded the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America, the PEN Center USA West Lifetime Achievement Award, among others.In November 2000, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was conferred upon Mr. Bradbury at the 2000 National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City.
Ray Bradbury has never confined his vision to the purely literary. He has been nominated for an Academy Award (for his animated film Icarus Montgolfier Wright), and has won an Emmy Award (for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree).He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television?s Ray Bradbury Theater. He was the creative consultant on the United States Pavilion at the 1964 New York World?s Fair. In 1982 he created the interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney World, and later contributed to the conception of the Orbitron space ride at Euro-Disney, France.
Married since 1947, Mr. Bradbury and his wife Maggie live in Los Angeles with their four beloved cats.They have four daughters and eight grandchildren.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday in August 2000, Bradbury said, "The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me.The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve.In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me.I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you?ll come along."
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