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Sunnyside | [Glen David Gold]

Sunnyside

Sunnyside opens on a winter day in 1916 during which Charlie Chaplin is spotted in more than 800 places simultaneously, an extraordinary delusion that forever binds the overlapping fortunes of three men.
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Publisher's Summary

Sunnyside opens on a winter day in 1916, during which Charlie Chaplin is spotted in more than 800 places simultaneously, an extraordinary delusion that forever binds the overlapping fortunes of three men: Leland Wheeler, son of the world's last (and worst) Wild West star, as he finds unexpected love on the battlefields of France; Hugo Black, drafted to fight under the towering General Edmund Ironside in America's doomed expedition against the Bolsheviks; and Chaplin himself, as he faces a tightening vise of complications - studio moguls, questions about his patriotism, his unchecked heart, and, most menacing of all, his mother.

The narrative is as rich and expansive as the ground it covers, and it is cast with a dazzling roster of both real and fictional characters: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Adolph Zukor, Chaplin's (first) child bride, a thieving Girl Scout, the secretary of the treasury, a lovesick film theorist, three Russian princesses (gracious, nervous, and nihilist), a crew of fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants moviemakers, legions of starstruck fans, and Rin Tin Tin.

By turns lighthearted and profound, Sunnyside is an altogether spellbinding novel about dreams, ambition, and the dawn of the modern age.

©2009 Knopf; (P)2009 Random House

What the Critics Say

"A breathless stupendous novel that recreates both a young brash America on the verge of becoming itself, and Chaplin, one of its most bewitching quixotic citizens....Gold proves himself yet again to be the hungriest craftiest funniest and most humane novelist we have." (Junot Díaz)

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    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 04-28-12
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 04-28-12

    trying to see the world with my ears

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    "almost as much fun as Ragtime"

    but without the 5 star polish of E L Doctorow. Although some of the themes are similar too(the postcolonial U.S. at beginning of empire as WWI devastates Europe, the young assessing their place in the world, the private self versus the public self), Sunnyside is written with a generational perspective different than Doctorow's masterpiece and also created a generation later. It's not a copy, it's a companion read.

    I always hesitate to download a 2 credit book (even when the listen is 2 or 3 times the length of many novels), but this was certainly double-credit worthy. It was also one of those slow-starting listens that I attempted 3 or 4 times before I could become absorbed in the slightly surreal tale. It suited perfectly when I needed something out of my ordinary listening mould, however. How could a novel featuring Charlie Chaplin work unless it were slightly surreal?

    If you're a fan of the totally absurd postmodern, this probably wouldn't suit --it' s just slightly off-centre of reality. Neither will it suit if you like all storylines tied up nicely - this jumps around a bit without tidy resolution.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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