The Age of Dreaming

Written by Nina Revoyr
Review by Susanne Dunlap

Set in Hollywood of the 1960s, this novel is a surprisingly rich tale that tells the story of an aging star of the silent era, Jun Nakayama. He lives quietly in his home at the foot of the Hollywood Hills, his only friend a neighbor who lunches with him occasionally and has no idea of his romantic past as a heartthrob of the silent screen.

But his tranquility is disrupted by the arrival of a young enthusiast, Nick Bellinger, who wants to write a piece about Nakayama to coincide with the opening of a silent movie theater, the beginning of renewed interest in the genre.

Told entirely—and convincingly—in the polite, somewhat detached voice of the elderly Nakayama, Revoyr’s novel takes us back and forth between the late teens and early twenties when Hollywood was roaring and rather liberal, to Nakayama’s present day. It soon becomes clear that he is trying to hide something terrible about his past from this prying journalist, who turns out to have written a movie script that he wants Nakayama to star in. The something terrible centers around a beautiful ingénue and her overbearing stage mother, with tactfully revealed truths about those who found a livelihood in the movies.
The drama is unpredictable and superbly paced, with an ending that satisfies without sentiment. Revoyr reveals the world of Hollywood in both eras—the golden age of silent movies and the ultra-commercialized sixties—in a new light through the eyes of a survivor with heart and honor. Highly recommended.