A tale of two Georges

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Is there anything creepier than a ventriloquist's dummy? With their rosy cheeks and knowing eyes, they really do possess a certain, let's say, humanness. From the time I read William Goldman's Magic in the late '70s, I couldn't look at my toy Charlie McCarthy doll the same way.

I recently saw a film called "The Ten," which is made up of 10 vignettes, each of which illustrates one of the 10 Commandments. In the "Thou Shalt Not Steal" story, Winona Ryder (oh, the irony) becomes so enchanted with a ventriloquist's dummy on her honeymoon that she stops at nothing to have it for herself — and by "have" I mean ... well, let's not go there. Let us just agree that no good can come from interacting with people made of wood.

But I digress. Wesley Stace — known to music fans as John Wesley Harding — has written By George (Little, Brown, 378 pages, $24.99) ...

By George

... the follow-up to his 2005 debut novel, Misfortune.

The title refers to two Georges, one an 11-year-old boy from a longtime show business family who's sent off to boarding school in 1973. The other George is a ventriloquist's dummy created in 1930, who narrates his own story. And just like a stage-show dummy can make you think he's really doing the talking, Stace pulls off the same stunt with George the Dummy's voice.

I'm only about a chapter and a half into the book, but plan to keep reading to see how and when the two Georges meet and what family secrets are revealed.

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Ah yes...those ventriloquists dummies...lest we not forget various wonderful and creepy episodes of of Rod Serling's series, "Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery", both of which had stories of those mystical carriers of their master's thrown voices, and then develop their own personalities. Let us not forget Lamb Chop...

It's been lying on my shelf for some time, but I think after this, I am going to pick it up. I only hope the memory of celebrity kleptomaniacs doesn't haunt my reading!

I just finished "by george" and I thought it was absolutely excellent: it's less pastiche-y than Misfortune, and the characters and milieu are very well done. I recommend it highly.

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This page contains a single entry by Teresa Budasi published on August 28, 2007 8:33 AM.

From stage to page was the previous entry in this blog.

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