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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Tinsel Town

Tinsel Town is Jim Newport’s fifth novel, with three dealing with the supernatural, and two, including this one, dealing with the heady drug-fuelled days of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
In his introduction of Tinsel Town subtitled Another rotten day in Paradise (ISBN 978-974-235-344-4, Willat Publishing 2009), author Newport alludes to his previous book Chasing Jimi, a work of ‘faction’ based of the life of the late Jimi Hendrix, stating that this new book is of a similar genre. However, in this book, he has used his literary license on himself, with recollections from his early days in the film industry. As he states, some names have been changed, but not all, making the usual disclaimer of “any resemblance to real characters, living or dead, or to real incidents is entirely coincidental” rather erroneous. Er, yes, Jim!
Despite the ‘faction’ label, Newport’s description of the very artificial movie industry is very realistic, and he pulls no punches in describing the financially irresponsible wasteful use of money in the industry. He quotes Orson Welles description of a movie studio as “the biggest electric train set a boy could ever have.” No wonder the folk in the movie industry didn’t want to meet ‘real life’ outside the studio gates. This was where drugs always helped.
The novel begins in the late 60’s in California, where no house was locked and everyone was ready to share a joint. “And if you had one in your pocket, better yet.”
It was not too long before the characters in the book were dropping acid (LSD) and Newport introduces the various people with that background, and then follows them into snorting cocaine. “In every corner (of the movie lot), every changing room, production trailer, camera car or ‘honey wagon’ – lines were being snorted.”
Far from being homophobic, the industry was just as homosexual as it appeared on the surface that it was heterosexual with the attendant groupies following the stars (with the ‘overflow’ being snapped up by the lower echelons in the industry). In fact, the book’s central character Joey Morton is fired from one movie because he was straight.
Once the characters are in place, they are thrown into a detective yarn, which keeps your interest to the end.
I can honestly say I enjoyed Tinsel Town from first to last pages and was disappointed it had come to the end. With the first half of the book being made up of short, racy chapters, it moves along at a fast pace. As it changes from serial reminiscences of an era which has been consigned to history to a full-blown thriller, the pace continues, and with so much action packed on to every page, he does meet his promise of “to spin a tale, unravel a mystery, and take the reader on an adventure.”
This book could very easily be the basis of a movie, and with Jim Newport being an old movie man himself, this is no coincidence.
A great tale, which anyone who lived through that era will understand. A good read at B. 595 RRP, available through Bookazine and all good bookstores.