Hayes’s scrupulously nuanced narrative is an insider’s manual for anyone who might aspire to the ghostly glamour of HollywoodThere’s a moment towards the end of this novel when its sole significant female character, having related a story whose details, elliptically told but horrifying nonetheless, notices the shock on her lover’s – the narrator’s – face. “Innocence: she had to laugh,” he says, reporting her speech. “Innocence was only the truth left out. And I’d no idea what a pleasure it was, at last, to tell the truth.”This, I think, is the central message that Hayes wants to transmit in this thin but incredibly sinewy novel. It is 130 pages long, feeling as though it has been whittled down to a size that can barely support its own weight; or as if it is a brief cry with, on either side, two eternities of silence.Hayes was a screenwriter for Hollywood, a jobbing hack, in a way, but a superior one; as a demobbed American in Italy after the war, he co‑wrote Vittorio de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, and also wrote for Roberto Rossellini. That’s something to be proud of on your CV, although one can only speculate about how he felt, much …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books