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Book Review: 'The Englishman's Boy'

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The Englishman's Boy

Current Status:
In Season
Guy Vanderhaeghe
Fiction, Historical Fiction

We gave it an A-

The power of movies to rewrite history is the fascinating theme fueling this trenchant novel. Canadian writer Vanderhaeghe seamlessly alternates two interconnected stories: In the first, set during Jazz Age Hollywood, a megalomaniacal studio head — desperate to film an ”American Odyssey” — dispatches a budding screenwriter to transcribe the rumored-to-be-astonishing life story of an old bit cowboy actor, Shorty McAdoo. The second, set in the Wild West circa 1873, traces the young McAdoo’s real adventures as a wolf trapper whose cohorts wage a horrifying attack on American Indians. As McAdoo’s sordid tale evolves into the stuff of patriotic, big-screen legend, Vanderhaeghe’s masterful storytelling plays irony against idealism while vividly animating two ruthless American frontiers. A-