Book Review: Celluloid

Book Review: Celluloid by Holly Curtis ★★★★☆

I’ve been fortunate in my recent book choices on Reader’s Favorite. The last few that I have made it through have all been good (which is not to say I’ve made it through all the ones I started because some haven’t been even good enough to finish, but that’s neither here nor there).

Celluloid was a delightful surprise. When I chose this one to review, it had been collecting virtual dust on the reviews list for a while. I oftentimes chose books that have been there for a while because, as an indie author myself, I know that any feedback is helpful feedback and I hate to see them make it through without getting reviewed.

Here is my official review for Reader’s Favorite:

Jimmy Clifford is the proprietor of a movie memorabilia/DVD rental shop, mostly because he finds he relates more to legendary stars of the silver screen than to real people. Aside from his shop and the local pharmacy, the only place he truly enjoys going is the local cinema, The Crypt. When he discovers that the landmark theater is to be demolished to make way for apartments, he decides that someone should do something about it. When his friends, Oswald, Nerrin and Pluto, along with his brother, Norman, decide that the someone should be him, Jimmy specifies that someone other than him should do something about it. Since The Crypt is his local haunt, and no one else is likely to do anything to stop its destruction, his friends are ultimately able to convince him that he is the theater’s only hope.

Celluloid follows Jimmy as he, along with the aid of his quirky group of friends, organizes a charity cabaret to try to save the local theater. Holly Curtis does a wonderful job of creating a diverse cast of characters, each with their own peculiarities, strengths and weaknesses. Each person Jimmy encounters in his quest to save the theater seems a bit more bizarre than the last. The idiosyncratic cast of characters leads to some wonderfully offbeat interactions. Curtis does a masterful job with the dialogue throughout Celluloid, as these disparate characters try to come together for the common good. Jimmy never misses the opportunity to drop in a movie reference in his quest to save The Crypt, stretch the boundaries of his world beyond Lion’s Hill Road and maybe even fall in love. If you’re looking for a fun story with some light humor and wonderful dialogue, look no further than Celluloid.

Now that the 250 word ‘money shot’ of a review is over, here are some additional notes for those interested. Bear in mind that this is just my nit-picky way of trying to justify the rating:

celluloidFirst off, kudos to the author for having the cover for this one redone. When I chose to review it, the cover was (apologies) godawful. It looked like what you see to the left there. It just screamed Tubcat, which wasn’t doing it any favors. By the time I finished the book, I found that the cover had been updated on the Amazon page for the book and that, more than anything, should help Ms. Curtis find the broader audience that I sincerely hope she finds.

The characters were interesting and the dialogue was stellar, almost to a fault. This led to what I thought was the book’s one issue: There seemed to be a bit of trouble with the flow near the end. There wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with the story, it just felt like after slowly building with broad scenes full of clever dialogue and witty humor, the ending was a bit rushed. I think she just started to unload a bit too soon and was kind of out of bullets before the end. It’s like when Will Ferrell punches the baby in The Campaign:

That scene made me laugh so hard I cried right there in the theater. But how do you follow it? You can’t really make him punch two babies and get the same (or a bigger) effect. In Celluloid, she had done probably too good of a job showing off the eccentricities of the characters early on, so by the time the cabaret rolled around, there wasn’t a lot she could add. Moving some of the wonderful character descriptions and dialogue from early on to the time of the cabaret would have made it flow much better.

For those of you who have read some of my other reviews, I think you’ll agree that’s about as petty a complaint as I can muster. Having said that, I strongly recommend that you read this one. The dialogue alone makes it worth your time and investment. I am looking forward to Ms. Curtis’ next work!