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My Last Movie Star: A Novel [Paperback]

Martha Sherrill
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 10 2004
Paperback exclusive! Excerpts from Allegra Coleman’s secret diary,

A movie star and a journalist find themselves on a strange road trip across the California desert. Allegra Coleman is Hollywood’s new new thing, a sumptuous young actress widely presumed to be an Oscar contender. Clementine James is a sardonic profile writer who’s tired of celebrities. After Allegra abruptly crashes the 1956 Porsche they are driving in and vanishes—inspiring candlelight vigils and round-the-clock television coverage—Clementine is given a taste of celebrity herself. And she’s tempted to embrace her new iconic status, until ghostly visits from screen sirens of long ago—including Natalie Wood, Loretta Young, Tallulah Bankhead, and Myrna Loy—remind her about the evanescent nature of fame. My Last Movie Star is a parable of Hollywood that’s at once affectionate, absurdly funny, and disturbingly plausible.

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From Publishers Weekly

Bette, Audrey, Angelina, Julia, Gwyneth-and now Allegra. In this first novel, veteran journalist and experienced celebrity profiler Sherrill (Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Esquire, etc.) brilliantly dissects the vicissitudes of fame and the absurdities of Hollywood idol worship. Sherrill's "It" girl, Allegra Coleman, believes she's creating her stardom herself-"Acting is mostly... having the balls to stay still and not move and letting the camera stare at you like some kind of pervert"-and is AWOL from her obligations at Cosmos Studios. With her on the road is jaded journalist Clementine James, who is doing her absolutely last celebrity profile for Flame, a popzine that she wants to abandon for life on a horse farm with her lover, Ned. Their trip stretches on and on-until a car crash brings it to a screeching halt. When Clementine awakens at the accident scene, she's lost an eye and Allegra's vanished. The world becomes obsessed with Allegra's fate while Clementine, the last person to see her alive, finds herself caught up in a media feeding frenzy. Vigils, air kisses with celebrities, endless gifts, interviews, photo ops and even a one-night stand with Allegra's TV star ex-boyfriend threaten to turn Clementine into a pop icon herself until mysterious "visits" from glamorous movie stars-Dorothy Lamour, Gloria Swanson, Loretta Young, Marion Davies, Myrna Loy and Tallulah Bankhead-teach her the fickleness of celluloid celebrity. It's popcorn parody for the soul, with plenty of butter. Extra perk: a fun "Filmography" glosses movies mentioned in the text.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Fed up with her manipulative editor, entertainment journalist Clementine James is packing up to move to her boyfriend's Virginia farm when Flame Magazine asks her to write an in-depth profile of captivating actress Allegra Coleman. When their interview ends in a car crash, Clementine awakes to find herself a celebrity. Allegra has vanished, and Clementine was the last person to see her. Allegra's disappearance catapults her into instant superstardom. Flame produces an "All-Allegra" issue, Allegra Web sites spring up overnight, and a candlelight vigil attracts the likes of John Travolta and Snoop Dogg. Meanwhile, sirens of Hollywood's past visit Clementine, smoking endless cigarettes and dispensing advice about men, movies, and the uncertain rewards of fame. With a less skilled writer, this device could get tiresome, but Sherrill makes these passages humorous and affecting. Jaded by L.A., skeptical of preening actors, Clementine is nevertheless--like us--in thrall to the movies and the larger-than-life personalities on screen. Sherrill has crafted an absorbing, note-perfect examination of Hollywood's culture of stardom, and film aficionados will savor the many cinematic references. Meredith Parets
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars So much potential lost under dull plot... June 28 2003
Format:Hardcover
Martha Sherrill's book 'My Last Movie Star' has a plot that simply sings with a lot of potential, being able to provide a well earned look at sudden celebritism while also taking a look at some classic actresses and and giving the authors opinion about Hollywood.
Clemintine James, a Hollywood reporter for 'Flame'(a vanity fair type magazine) is assigned to do (her very last) piece on up and coming actress Allegra Coleman, just before she retires from journalism to live a quiet country life . What was supposed to be a few page interview turns out into a week long road trip where, the two women inevitably get into a car accident. Clem surivives manages to survive but Allegra, oddly enough seems to dissapear into thin air while the nation goes into a mad frenzy to find the girl, while raising her fame to sudden messiah like status, with candle lit vigils and magazine spreads. Also Clemintine is also suddenly elevated to celebrity like status, as being the last person to see the girl alive as well as people (oddly enough) assuming that Clemintine was her best friend and there for seems to be in constant contact with her. Too add weight to recovery, Clemintine also gets "visits" from the ghosts of Allegra's "actress" grandmothers all while the nation and Clemintine await for Allegra to return...if she ever does.
The book is lost not under the authors pretension but the lack of real plot. As well as a marvelous way of adding in some clever scenes with some old time actress to add a bit of real wonderful mystery and life to the otherwise lukewarm novel. Sherill boggs down the book with useless scences from the protagoinist (Clemintine's) point of view and memories of her own exprieneces that really dont' seem to have anything to do with the main plot of the book.
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Format:Hardcover
Clementine James, journalist to the stars, embarks on her last celebrity interview with up-and-comer Allegra Coleman. After the interview, Clementine has plans to retire from movie star journalism and live with her stable, steady boyfriend Ned on his farm in Virginia.
But her plans go awry when Allegra crashes the car they're driving in - Clementine winds up in the hospital minus an eye, and Allegra disappears. Instead of going to Virginia to mend, Clementine becomes wrapped up in Allegra's disappearance and southern California culture, attending vigils and having one night stands with TV sitcom stars. Meanwhile, she's getting visits from yesterday's silver screen sirens - Myrna Loy, Loretta Young and Gloria Swanson, just to name a few.
Sherrill really seems to know this territory - stars and the culture of fame - and she writes very believably and farcically about it. Mostly, I found this to be an enjoyable read about the cult of celebrity, but after a while I grew tired of her "encounters" with dead movie stars; it was just kind of annoying quirk that didn't really move the story along. And if you're not familiar with old movies, you may have no idea who most of these women are. But the back of the book does include a cheeky "filmography" that offers a brief synopsis and critique of the movies mentioned throughout.
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Format:Hardcover
...and it turns out it goes down a little too smoothly. If you've ever wondered what it might be like to suddenly have the world's celebrity spotlight searching you relentlessly out, My Last Movie Star is a must read.
This book, about a cynical celebrity journalist who accidentally crosses over to become a celebrity in her own right, gives hilarious insight into the seductive but ephemeral allure of sudden fame.
My favorite sub-theme is the author's biting description of the self-important self-adulation of movieland's beautiful elite. The story's protagonist, Clementine James, ends up making some surprising choices when she is thrust into the glare of Hollywood's klieg lights.
One of the inventions that makes this book an original and a great read is the way the writer effortlessly weaves in appearances from the spirits of formerly-exalted-but-now-forgotten movie divas. You'll find out why Demi Moore named her unfortunate daughter Tallulah, among other tidbits.
MLMS will appeal to the serious movie buff, as well as anyone who has wondered about the ridiculous--and lucrative-- conniving that goes on behind the fame-making machine.
Hilarious. Entertaining. Soon to be made into a major motion picture, no doubt directed by Robert Altman, with Renee Zellweger cast as Clementine and Tim Robbins as the manipulative publisher Ed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Fun Read March 10 2003
Format:Hardcover
My Last Movie Star by Martha Sherrill is a clever, funny send-up of Hollywood that will suit those who've succumbed the glamour of Tinseltown, as well those cynics that view Hollywood Fame as a force wholly independent of the deserts of its victims.
Elements of the book read as truth. Sherrill presents an authentic insider's view of the star-making machinery that occasionally turns interesting, quirky personalities into genuine Hollywood Stars. The story line and characters are as real as anything you might find in the magazine racks at the grocery store checkout line. Lest the reader confuse Hollywood truth with reality, however, the book is punctuated with supernatural visits from Stars of the past, providing an effective and comical vehicle for examining the nature of Fame.
For those that revel in the fiction of the real Movie Star world, Sherrill is respectful of history, and pays homage to the oeuvres of forgotten Stars. For those who choose to laugh at the self-importance of Hollywood, the story is told through the jaded eyes of an outsider journalist that cuts through sycophantic phoniness like a laser. And provides plenty of belly laughs along the way!
Truth or fiction, Hollywood idol or idiot, My Last Movie Star will appeal to just about anyone the relishes a good story well-told.
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