Theme Song for an Old Show, By Jeffrey Lewis
Sunday 31 October 2010
For some novels, the first-person form seems extraordinarily well chosen, and so it is here. Louie, the narrator, is a TV writer on a superior TV cop show, Northie (Lewis's own experience as a writer on Hill Street Blues no doubt comes in handy). The novel looks back at his whole life, from the time his father, a TV producer, left home for another woman, deftly laying bare the tensions this produced between Louie and both his parents; his uneasy relationships with friends, women and colleagues; the arc of his writing career; his failed attempt to preserve the integrity of his show; and his efforts to get closer to his father as his own star rises and his father's declines.
Highly intelligent yet never quite at ease in the world, Louie is a subtle, mordant, ironic observer of himself and others. One suspects, given the similarity in names (Lewis/Louie), a strong autobiographical element; but whether the details are true is beside the point. The novel feels true as a work of literature. It's only 150 pages and the print is large. You can read it in two hours. It will be two hours very well spent.
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