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"AMBITIOUS . . . EVOKES THE STYLE OF SAMUEL BECKETT." --NEW YORK TIMES
"BRILLIANT." --SEATTLE BOOK REVIEW
"EXTRAORDINARY." --LIBRARY JOURNAL (STARRED REVIEW)
An unforgettable testament to the redemptive power of love, as experienced by one of the twentieth century's greatest performers.
When Stan Laurel is paired with Oliver Hardy, affectionately known as Babe, the history of comedy--not to mention their personal and professional lives--is altered forever. Yet Laurel's simple screen persona masks a complex human being, one who endures rejection and intense loss; who struggles to build a character from the dying stages of vaudeville to the seedy and often volatile movie studios of Los Angeles in the early years of cinema; and who is haunted by the figure of another comic genius, the brilliant, driven, and cruel Charlie Chaplin.
Eventually, Laurel becomes one of the greatest screen comedians the world has ever known: a man who enjoys both adoration and humiliation; who loves, and is loved in turn; who betrays, and is betrayed; who never seeks to cause pain to anyone else, yet leaves a trail of affairs and broken marriages in his wake. But Laurel's life is ultimately defined by one relationship of such astonishing tenderness and devotion that only death could sever this profound connection: his love for Babe.
"The life and art of Stan Laurel, from vaudeville and silent movies to the talkies and old age, is explored in this artful novel...The book's great love story is that of Laurel mourning and yearning for his late partner [Oliver Hardy], still writing routines for the two of them, rehearsing them by himself. It's the best tribute to this novel that by the end of it you feel you have been given the full texture of a life." --Kirkus Reviews
"A gorgeous character study and an unforgettable love story." --Elaine Petrocelli, Book Passage
"This is a book about love: love of women, love of men, love of art, love of comedy . . . What catapults the reader straight into Hollywood's Golden Age is the enormous amount of research and passion that lies behind He. When those researched details coalesce, a world of Dickens-like detail leaps off the page." --Martina Evans, The Irish Times
"There is little here of the lovable innocence of [Stan Laurel's] screen persona. Instead we are shown a troubled, difficult man who drinks heavily, screws up his relationships with women and broods about the unmatchable genius of Charlie Chaplin . . . Laurel is never referred to by name, only as 'he,' but every other man in the book has his name written out in full. Initially disconcerting, the usage soon comes to seem no more than a further reflection of the originality of this fine novel." --Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times