Peter Craig The Martini Shot: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780688156589

The Martini Shot: A Novel

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9780688156589: The Martini Shot: A Novel
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"The martini shot" is film slang for the wrap shot in a movie, the signal to strike the set and celebrate with a stiff drink. But aging action film star Charlie West doesn't need an occasion -- the empty booze bottles in Charlie's closet risk crowding out the skeletons. Little does Charlie know that salvation is on the way in the unlikeliest of forms.

Matt Ravendahl, Charlie's illegitimate teenage son and an unforgettable character, is on his way to L.A. in search of acceptance from the father he never knew. When Matt reaches L.A. he must first overcome the doubts of his half sister, Ava, and soon the two form a memorable bond and a commitment to help Charlie confront his demons. With great elan, novelist Peter Craig shows how a family on the brink of dissolution reaches out and pulls together at the last possible moment. The novel's rollicking conclusion, a road trip that is part Beat generation, part National Enquirer, will leave readers cheering for more.

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Review:

You just knew that someday, somehow, that old adage about books and their covers and the worthiness of judging them by such means would come in handy, didn't you? On its surface, The Martini Shot is just what its slick, twisted-celluloid-strip-in-a-cocktail-glass cover image touts it to be: a Hollywood novel. In addition, the young author and son of Sally Field takes his title from industry slang for the final sequence to be filmed in any production.

Moving into the actual text, however, this specter doesn't loom so large. If you're looking for a behind-the-scenes industry leer in the style of Michael Tolkin, Michael Covino, or Bruce Wagner, you might look elsewhere. The Martini Shot is really as much of a dissection or indictment of Hollywood as Pinocchio is an exposé on puppetry. Rather than functioning as a raison d'être, Tinseltown is a backdrop for Craig's protagonists and their quests. So what's all the questing about? A couple of the usual suspects: love and self-knowledge. The author tosses in a paternity angle and adds the search for long-lost Dad to the pot.

The result is not an overall success. Craig can occasionally come through with a keen observation on family dynamics, but he can also be distracted by jokes that take too long to set up, given the ultimate punch they pack, let alone the up-for-grabs issue of whether such clever one-liners belong anywhere near this particular tale of very wounded children and their very selfish parents. At its most on-track moments, The Martini Shot has a few worthy things to say about familial relations, but again, to throw it into the pile of recent Hollywood novels is quite likely to do both the novel and the reader a disservice. If you're looking for a dish fest on the film industry's particular brand of inexplicably alluring idiocy, you'll be better off searching elsewhere. If you're looking for plain ol' vanilla human idiocy, then you might have arrived at your destination. --Bob Michaels

About the Author:

Peter Craig is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he wrote The Martini Shot, his debut novel. The son of actress Sally Fields, he grew up with a unique access to Hollywood culture and society. His work has been published in The Greensboro Review, The Crescent Review, and the Writers' Forum. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Peter Craig
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