The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece

Knopf. May 2023. 448p. ISBN 9780525655596. $32.50. F
DEBUT Actor Hanks’s sprawling and engaging debut novel (following his 2017 short story collection Uncommon Type) takes fictional worldbuilding to a new level. Ostensibly a Hollywood novel about the daunting process of developing, casting, and shooting a major motion picture (under COVID-precautionary guidelines), the book and its characters are bathed in so much backstory and idiosyncratic detail that Hanks often adds footnotes at the bottom of the page to squeeze in even more minutia. Sprawling across seven decades, the novel opens in 1947 with World War II veteran Bob Falls visiting his artistic nephew Robby Anderson, encouraging his drawing talents, and then abruptly abandoning him. When Falls resurfaces in the 1970s, Robby (now drawing under the pseudonym TREV-VORR) creates an underground comic book based on his uncle, who used a flamethrower during the war. Decades later, Robby’s comic is turned into a big-budget, high-profile superhero movie.
VERDICT Hanks’s attention to detail and quirky, full-blooded characters make this novel an ideal choice for fans of both James A. Michener and John Irving. It’s an old-fashioned “big” novel that book clubs will love getting lost inside.
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