Friday, 17 November 2006

Temptation by Douglas Kennedy

Douglas Kennedy
Hutchinson €??

Lucille Redmond

FAILURE David Armitage gets his big chance: one of his scripts is bought for TV and he’s suddenly the creator of a hit series.

So what does he do? He walks out on his wife, of course.

She’s a failure too – an actress trying to make it while minding the kid. But Happy Dave leaves both of them in the lurch.

Soon he’s got a new home, a new babe and a new high-flying lifestyle.

Wait for the crash, eh?

Kennedy – once a Dublin resident who ran the Peacock Theatre – sells books by the zillion across Europe, but hasn’t yet really cracked the US market.

His annoyance – in a recent Independent interview he said his books were published in 17 languages, “but the one country I am shut out from is my own” – may have provided tinder for the crackling fire of Armitage’s rage as he’s dropped like a rock by the people of the glamorous world he craves.

But redemption is Kennedy’s game, and having watched Armitage’s catastrophic fall, we get to see him crawl back out of the slime of his life and into his own good books again.

Before redemption, though, there’s eerie stuff going on: plagiarism by a billionaire, and accusation of plagiarism by David himself.

It all reflects some of the creepy embarrassments of the last couple of years, when a succession of writers were discovered to have – unconsciously, they swore – reproduced verbatim or nearly the work of earlier authors.

David finds himself at the mercy of Hollywood’s literary researchers, who go through his work with a finecomb and find lots and lots of, well, hommages.

Soon he’s being asked to give back fees, under the contract clause that the writer guarantees the work is his alone.

And not long after that he’s knocking back the doubles and being paparazzi-ambushed as he attacks a catty journo.

Temptation is a pretty funny portrayal of the temptations of fame, but it could have done with a razor-sharp editor who’d take a slash-hook to the philosophical moments.

But in the hilarious descriptions of a screenwriter’s life bathing in the pool of Hollywood sharks, Kennedy is superb.

And his gossipy insider’s picture of the life of the horribly wealthy is enough to cheer anyone up as they wait in the rain for the 19A bus.