Up with the Sun

Books on Tape. Feb. 2023. 13:09 hrs. ISBN 9780593665039. $95. F
In 1980, former actor Dick Kallman and his boyfriend were murdered during a botched robbery attempt at Kallman’s home/antique shop. Lowell Byers immersively narrates Mallon’s (Landfall) sensationalized fictional account of Kallman’s real life and death. During the 1950s, an ambitious Dick clawed his way to stardom. For every promising theatrical role, there were asinine TV bit parts and sitcoms. He kissed up to those in power and belittled entertainers he believed to be beneath him, including Matt Liannetto, a theatrical pianist who was one of the last to see Dick alive. The audiobook alternates between Dick’s past and Matt’s present, where he helps with the murder investigation and starts a romance with Devin, a part-time police station clerk. The switch allows Byers to bring out Dick’s third-person omniscient smarminess and Matt’s wry first-person earnestness. Byers’s amusing performance of Dolores Gray, a real-life actress who also didn’t become famous, is a hoot. However, Byers’s ethnic accents (Chinese, Dominican American, Indigenous) border on stereotypical. Though these moments leave as quickly as they arrive, they may be troubling for some listeners.
VERDICT Listeners will delight in hearing Dick schmooze with famous 1950s and 1960s celebrities and enjoy Matt’s romance and crime procedural story lines. A treat for book clubs.
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