Monday, November 19, 2012

Brock Brower's Late Great Novel

Who as a reader doesn't like coming across a great neglected novel if for no other reason than that you can tell your friends about it?
 LATE GREAT CREATURE, by Brock Brower, is one of those great neglected novels, a brilliant piece of work published in 1971.   Part Hollywood novel, part horror story, part intriguing character study, it's a book not much like anything else I've ever read. It's the fictional biography of an aging horror movie star named Simon Moro. Simon, who was born in 1900, apparently in Vienna, was a huge star in the 30's and 40's, playng such things as a mad pedophile in Fritz Lang's Zeppelin and, in his American debut, The Moth, also starring Fay Wray. By WWII he was already in decline, playing Nazis in war movies and the monster in the ultra low budget Gila Man series. But the central point of the novel is his last film, a very Roger Corman like production of The Raven, being made in the late 60s. Moro's story is told from three perspectives--a cynical journalist's, that of the very shallow director of the Raven, and in the last section, by Moro himself. In this last part, it becomes clear what Moro, for his grand finale as an actor, has up his sleeve. Suffice it to say it as an act that is quite bizarre, performed in the theater at the Manhattan premiere of The Raven; it is his last determined attempt to deliver a memorable shock to an increasingly unshockable world. What he does is both grotesque and hilarious, a grand final gesture by an over the top personality.
This book is a great satire on celebrity culture and a very affectionate send-up and tribute to the horror genre. Simon Moro is a person who is both comic and appalling, an unforgettable character. He reflects the novel itself, a book both very dark and very funny.  Long out of print, Overlook Press brought out a new paperback edition of THE LATE GREAT CREATURE last fall, and we can only be happy about that.

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