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2 Burnside Literature- A to Z

Sunnyside

by

Sunnyside Cover

 

Staff Pick

A great American novel, Sunnyside contains multitudes. Glen David Gold follows his bestselling debut (Carter Beats the Devil) with an audaciously imagined history of Hollywood at the start of World War I, so unceasingly vibrant that even the book's credits are a pleasure to read.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"There are so many dazzling episodes — in such a wide variety of settings in so many different styles and tones — that I began to think there was nothing Gold couldn't do." Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)

Synopses & Reviews

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Publisher Comments:

From the author of the acclaimed best seller Carter Beats the Devil comes a grand entertainment with the brilliantly realized figure of Charlie Chaplin at its center: a novel at once cinematic and intimate, thrilling and darkly comic, that dramatizes the moment when American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of celebrity.

Sunnyside opens on a winter day in 1916 during which Chaplin is spotted in more than eight hundred places simultaneously, an extraordinary mass delusion. From there, the novel follows the overlapping fortunes of three men: Leland Wheeler, son of the world's last (and worst) Wild West star, as he heads to the battlefields of France; snobbish Hugo Black, drafted to fight under the towering General Edmund Ironside in America's doomed engagement with Russia; and Chaplin himself, as he faces a tightening vice of complications — studio moguls, questions about his patriotism, his unchecked heart, and, most menacing of all, his mother — to finally make a movie as good as he was.

With a cast of enthralling characters, both historical and fictional — Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, a thieving Girl Scout, a lovestruck film theorist, Russian princesses, even Rin Tin Tin — Sunnyside is a heartrending, spellbinding novel about American promises both kept and betrayed.

Review:

"From the bestselling author of Carter Beats the Devil comes an elegant blend of reality and fiction, war drama and Hollywood glamour. Gold sets into motion his cameo-heavy, multipronged plot with a bizarre incident in winter 1916, when Charlie Chaplin is spotted simultaneously in 800 places across the country, causing mass hysteria and panic. The primary story line follows Chaplin's struggles with women, creativity, film budgets and his opposition to the war. In a second, intersecting world, Leland Wheeler moves from the hinterlands to San Francisco with dreams of being a film star. He rechristens himself Leland Duncan, and though he gets shipped to the battlefields of France, the two ailing puppies he finds over there later provide his entre to the movie biz. Finally, Hugo Black is a Detroit gentleman who volunteers for the infantry in an uncharacteristic whim and finds himself fighting in America's secret invasion of Russia. The result is a dramatic narrative of chance and coincidence, and also a serious reconstruction of an evolving social landscape. It is wholly exhausting and entirely satisfying: to borrow an idea from Chaplin's great personal-artistic quest in the book, it's a work as good as Gold." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

Glen David Gold's new novel takes its title and perhaps too much of its spirit from Charlie Chaplin's weirdest movie, a rare financial flop called "Sunnyside." At just 34 minutes long, the 1919 film cobbled together several incongruous scenes, including some classic slapstick, a surreal dance with wood nymphs, a violent suicide and a baffling happy ending. Having already made more than 60 movies before... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Gold [is a] masterful storyteller... The cascade of historic details Gold generates is breathtaking, but it is his electrifying characters, wildly inventive action replete with comedic mishaps and witty dialogue, and trenchant insights into the absurdity of war and the mythic dimension of movies that gather force and velocity to make this such a hilarious, brilliant, and transporting novel." Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"A breathless stupendous novel that recreates both a young brash America on the verge of becoming itself, and Chaplin, one of its most bewitching quixotic citizens. From lighthouse to Hollywood to starlets to war to stardom to madness to genius Gold's startling narrative carries us across the world and back. Gold proves himself yet again to be the hungriest craftiest funniest and most humane novelist we have." Junot Díaz

Review:

"Gold's tale strains from overreach now and again, but that is the price one pays for such ambition — and this is an ambitious, very well-written book full of memorable moments, not least of them starring Rin Tin Tin. Historical but not didactic, in the manner of the master of the genre, E.L. Doctorow, and more completely realized than Gold's debut." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Gold, a gifted, resourceful writer, juggles all these narrative balls with aplomb, producing the entertainment of a great read along with the you-are-there intimacies of historical fiction." Jeffrey Burke, Bloomberg News

Synopsis:

From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Carter Beats the Devil comes a novel that dramatizes the moment when American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of celebrity.

Synopsis:

Glen David Gold, author of the best seller Carter Beats the Devil, now gives us a grand entertainment with the brilliantly realized figure of Charlie Chaplin at its center: a novel at once cinematic and intimate, heartrending and darkly comic, that captures the moment when American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of celebrity.

Sunnyside opens on a winter day in 1916 during which Charlie Chaplin is spotted in more than eight hundred places simultaneously, an extraordinary delusion that forever binds the overlapping fortunes of three men: Leland Wheeler, son of the worlds last (and worst) Wild West star, as he finds unexpected love on the battlefields of France; Hugo Black, drafted to fight under the towering General Edmund Ironside in Americas doomed expedition against the Bolsheviks; and Chaplin himself, as he faces a tightening vise of complications—studio moguls, questions about his patriotism, his unchecked heart, and, most menacing of all, his mother.

The narrative is as rich and expansive as the ground it covers, and it is cast with a dazzling roster of both real and fictional characters: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Adolph Zukor, Chaplins (first) child bride, a thieving Girl Scout, the secretary of the treasury, a lovesick film theorist, three Russian princesses (gracious, nervous, and nihilist), a crew of fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants moviemakers, legions of starstruck fans, and Rin Tin Tin.

By turns lighthearted and profound, Sunnyside is an altogether spellbinding novel about dreams, ambition, and the dawn of the modern age.

About the Author

Glen David Golds first novel, Carter Beats the Devil, has been translated into fourteen languages. His short stories and essays have appeared in McSweeneys, Playboy, and The New York Times Magazine. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Alice Sebold.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Elizabeth R, May 24, 2009 (view all comments by Elizabeth R)
Sunnyside takes some perseverance because it IS very confusing at first. The payoff is worth it though, as this is a novel filled with wonderful moments that transport you back to a different time with characters that you come to understand and care about as you find the rhythm of the book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(21 of 41 readers found this comment helpful)
lellingw, May 15, 2009 (view all comments by lellingw)
I love Charlie Chaplin and was eager to read this book. I unfortunately didn't find Sunnyside as good as Ron Charles does in his review. My reaction might be closer to the audience's reaction to Sunnyside itself. I was confused, not very charmed and enchanted with the book. It felt more like a book with a name dropping problem than a charming book about Charlie Chaplin, a film and a son.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(20 of 40 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307270689
Author:
Gold, Glen David
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Motion picture actors and actresses
Subject:
Popular Culture
Subject:
Fame
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090505
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
576
Dimensions:
9.75 x 6.4 x 1.5 in 2.1 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Sunnyside Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.50 In Stock
Product details 576 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307270689 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A great American novel, Sunnyside contains multitudes. Glen David Gold follows his bestselling debut (Carter Beats the Devil) with an audaciously imagined history of Hollywood at the start of World War I, so unceasingly vibrant that even the book's credits are a pleasure to read.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "From the bestselling author of Carter Beats the Devil comes an elegant blend of reality and fiction, war drama and Hollywood glamour. Gold sets into motion his cameo-heavy, multipronged plot with a bizarre incident in winter 1916, when Charlie Chaplin is spotted simultaneously in 800 places across the country, causing mass hysteria and panic. The primary story line follows Chaplin's struggles with women, creativity, film budgets and his opposition to the war. In a second, intersecting world, Leland Wheeler moves from the hinterlands to San Francisco with dreams of being a film star. He rechristens himself Leland Duncan, and though he gets shipped to the battlefields of France, the two ailing puppies he finds over there later provide his entre to the movie biz. Finally, Hugo Black is a Detroit gentleman who volunteers for the infantry in an uncharacteristic whim and finds himself fighting in America's secret invasion of Russia. The result is a dramatic narrative of chance and coincidence, and also a serious reconstruction of an evolving social landscape. It is wholly exhausting and entirely satisfying: to borrow an idea from Chaplin's great personal-artistic quest in the book, it's a work as good as Gold." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "There are so many dazzling episodes — in such a wide variety of settings in so many different styles and tones — that I began to think there was nothing Gold couldn't do." (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
"Review" by , "Gold [is a] masterful storyteller... The cascade of historic details Gold generates is breathtaking, but it is his electrifying characters, wildly inventive action replete with comedic mishaps and witty dialogue, and trenchant insights into the absurdity of war and the mythic dimension of movies that gather force and velocity to make this such a hilarious, brilliant, and transporting novel."
"Review" by , "A breathless stupendous novel that recreates both a young brash America on the verge of becoming itself, and Chaplin, one of its most bewitching quixotic citizens. From lighthouse to Hollywood to starlets to war to stardom to madness to genius Gold's startling narrative carries us across the world and back. Gold proves himself yet again to be the hungriest craftiest funniest and most humane novelist we have."
"Review" by , "Gold's tale strains from overreach now and again, but that is the price one pays for such ambition — and this is an ambitious, very well-written book full of memorable moments, not least of them starring Rin Tin Tin. Historical but not didactic, in the manner of the master of the genre, E.L. Doctorow, and more completely realized than Gold's debut."
"Review" by , "Gold, a gifted, resourceful writer, juggles all these narrative balls with aplomb, producing the entertainment of a great read along with the you-are-there intimacies of historical fiction."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Carter Beats the Devil comes a novel that dramatizes the moment when American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of celebrity.
"Synopsis" by , Glen David Gold, author of the best seller Carter Beats the Devil, now gives us a grand entertainment with the brilliantly realized figure of Charlie Chaplin at its center: a novel at once cinematic and intimate, heartrending and darkly comic, that captures the moment when American capitalism, a world at war, and the emerging mecca of Hollywood intersect to spawn an enduring culture of celebrity.

Sunnyside opens on a winter day in 1916 during which Charlie Chaplin is spotted in more than eight hundred places simultaneously, an extraordinary delusion that forever binds the overlapping fortunes of three men: Leland Wheeler, son of the worlds last (and worst) Wild West star, as he finds unexpected love on the battlefields of France; Hugo Black, drafted to fight under the towering General Edmund Ironside in Americas doomed expedition against the Bolsheviks; and Chaplin himself, as he faces a tightening vise of complications—studio moguls, questions about his patriotism, his unchecked heart, and, most menacing of all, his mother.

The narrative is as rich and expansive as the ground it covers, and it is cast with a dazzling roster of both real and fictional characters: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Adolph Zukor, Chaplins (first) child bride, a thieving Girl Scout, the secretary of the treasury, a lovesick film theorist, three Russian princesses (gracious, nervous, and nihilist), a crew of fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants moviemakers, legions of starstruck fans, and Rin Tin Tin.

By turns lighthearted and profound, Sunnyside is an altogether spellbinding novel about dreams, ambition, and the dawn of the modern age.

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