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Lives of the Circus Animals

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Lives of the Circus Animals is a brilliant new comedy about New York theater people: actors, writers, personal assistants, and a drama critic for the New York Times. They are male, female, straight, gay, in love with their work or in love with each other, and one of them, British star Henry Lewse, "the Hamlet of his generation," is famous.

Award-winning novelist Christopher Bram gives us ten days and nights in this small-town world in the heart of a big city, an engaging novel that is also a satiric celebration of the quest for sanity in the face of those two impostors, success and failure.

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Bram (The Notorious Dr. August) has crafted a complex story about the lives of theater people, the "circus animals" of the title. Within the New York setting, theater happens at all levels, from children's school plays to Broadway musicals to avant-garde off off Broadway. Henry Lewse is a British actor starring in a Broadway musical. Jessie Doyle is his much-needed personal assistant. Her brother, Caleb, is a playwright whose latest play was shredded by theater critic Kenneth Prager. Frank, Jessie's new boyfriend, is directing a reality play in Apartment 2B. Toby, Caleb's former lover, is trying hard to break into show biz. In a supreme comedy of errors, all these characters come together with Jessie and Caleb's mom at Caleb's birthday party. When Kenneth Prager sits next to Mom Doyle, thinking it the safest place in the room, he gets the shock of his life. The well-drawn characters run the gamut of the human condition, and the story encompasses all the joys and sorrows of everyday life, revealing that circus animals are much like the rest of us. Recommended.-Joanna M. Burkhardt, Ashaway, RI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Clever stage satire and compassionate character writing distinguish this heady, humorous New York theater novel by the author of The Notorious Mr. August and Father of Frankenstein (which was made into the Academy Award-winning film Gods and Monsters). The title (a Yeats reference) effectively conveys the fondness and gentle derision with which Bram presents his ensemble cast. Henry Lewse is a prominent British actor starring in a musical, but preoccupied with sex. His latest find is Toby Vogler, a good-looking, not terribly bright young man, honored to have the attention of a star, but too earnest to provide full satisfaction ("Why am I such bad sex?" he sobs). Toby is longing for Caleb Doyle, a playwright whose first stage success was followed by the immediate and ignominious failure of his second. Caleb's sister, Jessica, is also a theater enthusiast and works as Henry's assistant. She is loved by Frank Earp, a rather bedraggled director who has come to terms with the limits of his career, directing schoolchildren and off-off-off-Broadway plays (his current show is staged in an apartment). Presiding gloomily over the rest of the cast is Kenneth Prager ("The Buzzard of Off-Broadway"), the Times reviewer who shot down Caleb's play. After much acting, gossip, psychoanalysis and sex (mostly inept), all come together at Caleb's big-finale birthday party. As he proved in Father of Frankenstein, Bram has a sophisticated understanding of celebrity and the intersection of gay and straight worlds. His savvy-and his easy familiarity with the New York theater scene-gives edge and nuance to this witty entertainment. Agent, Edward Hibbert. (Oct. 1) Forecast: After his sweeping historical novel The Notorious Dr. August, Bram returns to a smaller canvas. Fans of Father of Frankenstein (and Gods and Monsters) will be pleased, as will Waugh and Wodehouse readers who recognize the British comedy of manners lurking inside this American theater satire. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Very cleverly done.hilarious.well-paced, sexy.and deeply steeped in the traditions and personalities of the theatrical world." -- New York Times Book Review "Deliciously funny." -- Gay City News "[A] sexy, witty novel" -- Detroit Free Press "A biting comedy of manners.lively, useful, whip-smart." -- Entertainment Weekly "Slick, smart, and funny" -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review "Very cleverly done...hilarious...well-paced, sexy...and deeply steeped in the traditions and personalities of the theatrical world."--New York Times Book Review "Deliciously funny."--Gay City News "[A] sexy, witty novel"--Detroit Free Press "A biting comedy of manners...lively, useful, whip-smart."--Entertainment Weekly "Slick, smart, and funny"--Kirkus Reviews, starred review Very cleverly done hilarious well-paced, sexy and deeply steeped in the traditions and personalities of the theatrical world. --New York Times Book Review" Slick, smart, and funny --Kirkus Reviews, starred review" A biting comedy of manners lively, useful, whip smart. --Entertainment Weekly" [A] sexy, witty novel --Detroit Free Press" Deliciously funny. --Gay City News"

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