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Success Stories

by Perry Crowe

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ISBN 1 4120 5365 X
Traffod, 2005
323pp, paperback
Retail price $25 (13.96)

Open Book

Review by Chris Williams

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This is a book about sex, drugs and show-biz. Or, it’s a book about nothing. Or, it’s a simple love affair. Or, it’s about friendship. Or, it’s about how what may be a certainty to one person, will be similarly a certainty to a second person, but a completely different certainty. This book is all of these and more. If I were forced to define it closely I would describe it as one where different individuals’ ideas of nothing can inflict on each other. I would also say that it is a damn fine novel.

We are in Los Angeles. Two friends, Zip (real name) and Otto, are out on the town with a friend. They are drinking and also heavily stoned, which we gather, as the novel progresses, is a normal state with them; there is a lot of drug use in this novel.

They go into a bar where folk music is being played. Zip is immediately smitten by the shy girl singer/guitarist called Irene who is performing. Much of the rest of the novel is taken up with their developing and eventually disintegrating relationship. There is a lot of them together, with Zip taking various quantities of various drugs and Irene being somewhat disapproving. There is also much discussion of religion, relationships, etc. Zip and Irene are obviously on completely different wavelengths.

What is not immediately apparent however, is that so are Zip and Otto. This doesn’t begin to emerge until Otto’s life starts to fall apart. This is just after Irene has left Los Angeles, claiming undying love for Zip. Things begin changing between Zip and Irene, as they communicate by e-mail and telephone, at the same time that Zip is trying, in his vague but generally well-meaning way, to help Otto.

So that’s the sex (Zip and Irene) and the drugs (Zip, Otto and lots of other characters). What about the show-biz? Both Zip and Otto work in the reality television industry in Hollywood. There is a lot in this book about how this industry works. I have no idea whether Perry Crowe has any inside knowledge of this industry, whether he researched it or whether he made it all up. Whatever, I was completely convinced that this was quite likely how things were done, with the totally faked dating show presented in great detail and completely horrifying.

Much of this book seems to take place in a haze, with Zip reacting to his surroundings, rather than being part of it. And that, for Zip, is the problem. He is a generally likeable character who, without the slightest intention of doing so, causes havoc to those around him. He generally sleepwalks through his life but whether he can continue to do so after the events at the conclusion of this novel, seems very doubtful.

This book would make a very good film, with three cracking roles for young actors and space for some good cameos too. In the meantime, we are left with the novel and that is certainly no bad thing. Sex, drugs and show-biz or a relationship novel where the relationships change or are not what they appear to be? Both and more. Now, Trafford, how about a decent cover?