There is a delicious rush from finding something you’re not quite meant to see. And the Found Footage genre is testament to how much money we’ll spend to pretend we’ve found something risqué. But what if you found something truly forbidden? Dangerous? You’d get the word out, sure. But what would you do if the story started to grow and change as you were telling it? What if the illusion of danger wasn’t an illusion at all?
You’d probably come up with A Book About a Film, a magnificent, multi-faceted tale about the life-changing movie you’ll never see.
The book starts off with an excellent premise. What if people who had near death experiences learned something from their time on the other side? This was the plot of an excellent independent film called The Cornfield People. All the reports on the film indicated it had every chance of becoming a modest success, if not a cult classic. But there’s a problem. When the film was nearly done, it was shelved. Mysteriously.
The copies of the movie that exist are legendarily hard to find. But everyone who is anyone in film has an opinion about this one. The film has found its way into the hands of Spielberg (theoretically) and Tarantino (citation needed) and many more. So it seems only natural that our author writes a book about the film after being lucky enough to see it. And that’s when things start getting weird.
Much like Danielewski’s House of Leaves, this book relies on the footnotes to tell the story within the story. The story is not just the synopsis of the movie. It’s the things people have speculated. It’s the photos and articles that prove what happened. It’s even the typos in the document itself, which increasingly seem to be a code to another story entirely.
I actually got to the point when I wondered if the book was based on an actual movie. But aside from three posts on a movie blog, I couldn’t find any mention of it online. But this book’s level of detail makes it seem increasingly real. Didn’t you hear something about this in a trade journal? Wasn’t this person in a fluff piece in a local newspaper?
It’s the pictures, news clippings, and diary entries about those things that turn this into something more than just a good suspense thriller. If you just read the book the author thought they were writing, you’d think everything turned out. That it all wrapped up in a neat little package. But as you read on, you realize that the bigger questions are still out there.
About never enters abstract madness the way Leaves did. But it does get your heart racing as the pace accelerates, and the lines between fiction and reality gently blur. And I loved every bit of it.
Leigh is a fearless writer who never met a genre, subject, or format she didn’t like. She has written professionally for the past six years and enjoys biking, exploring odd corners of Northeast Ohio, and discovering those good books she hasn’t read yet.
Review copy was provided by C.W. Schultz.