Casillo, Charles, “The Fame Game”. Alyson Books, 2006.
What a Read!!!!!
I love books that pull me and won’t let go until I close the covers. It is not easy to find books that you dive it at the beginning and do not come up for air until you have finished reading the whole thing. But that is exactly what Charles Casillo’s, “The Fame Game” is. I started reading the morning of New Year’s Eve and before I knew it the time had come when I was suddenly a year older. “The Fame Game” with its simplistic plot—behind the scenes of pop culture—ranks high on my list of books I have really enjoyed. I have t admit that I approached the book with the feeling I was going to get another Jackie Collins type of literature—sex, culture, sex, show business, sex and more sex. And that s what “The Fame Game” is, except that it is much more literate than the usual and with its biting commentary on the way we live today, it is just a rewarding read.
We follow the career of Mikki Britten, a gorgeous model who is about to become a movie star, we meet Mario DeMarco, a male prostitute and man with the talent to write literately. And we have Carla Christaldi, the daughter of a director who has no talent whatsoever. When there three come together we have a fireworks show that puts most Fourth of July celebrations to shame. There are double crossings and deals which compel you to keep reading—maybe because the characters seem so real, each totally messed up but each with his own desire to become famous. The character development is just amazing as Casillo imbues each with brutality and honor, compassion and humanity. It is their driving ambition that keeps them going and you grow to love them even with the terribly destructive and self-destructive acts they perform.
The underlying theme of loneliness and pain hovers over the novel and there are times that you feel you have to stop reading as you feel the pain of the characters. They are real and convincing.
I hate to admit publicly that I like Jackie Collins. Beneath all the smut and glitz of her work, I usually find a good story. But Ms. Collins has something to learn from Casillo. His characters are so large and so convincing that Collin’s pales by comparison. The book is intense, the emotions are real and the plot is raw and painful.
Mikki and Marco have youth, beauty, and sexual prowess and to them the idea of growing old is a fate they cannot think of. But when these two feel that their lives are challenged, they have to act. They have three choices—fame, obscurity and death. We know, from the title, that they choose fame and the way they go after it will have you turning pages at record speed. Fame is something we all long for but I doubt we will go after it the way these characters do.
Even being set in the world of pop-culture, “The Fame Game” manages to rise above its milieu and provide us with a wonderful cast of characters. Casillo has created believable characters and his sense of style, even with the base nature of those in the book, so permeates the work, that is delightful.
I loved this book and I am even thinking of rereading it-just for the pleasure. But, alas, it will be a while as I have so much to review right now that I just don’t have time.