Celluloid by Holly Curtis


Holly Curtis creates a story in Celluloid that surrounds a character who is a lover of film and all things reminiscent of them. In Celluloid, Jimmy Clifford begins his journey as a depressed, angry film shop owner in his late twenties, desperate to find something in his life to increase his happiness. Clifford visits Laura, an employee at his local pharmacy, and plays cards regularly with his small group of friends – activities of a man who should be content. When one friend shares with him the news that Clifford’s favorite local theater, the Crypt, will be demolished, however, he has finally reached the straw that would break him. Angry with his community, society in general, and with the new property developer, Clifford becomes determined to save the theater with one grand idea: host a cabaret at the Crypt. To successfully complete his mission, Clifford must find seven acts in two months. Searching high and low, Clifford finds musical guests, comedians, mimes, recruits his friends and family to complete his set list, and even finds a romance along the way. Some acts drop out due to “artistic differences,” others attempt to bribe their way in, but in the end, a complete list is created and the night proceeds flawlessly. Whether or not the cabaret saves the theater, though, is another story…

Holly Curtis creates a successful story, not only with the plot line, but in writing style as well. The characters of Celluloid all are able to stand alone, each with his or her own distinct voice and characteristics. Readers are also easily able to understand Jimmy Clifford and from where his thoughts, feelings, and emotions are stemming. When Clifford learns of the probable destruction of his favorite theater, Curtis has so successfully created the environment that readers are immediately upset along with Clifford. Readers are along for the ride for the ups, downs, anger, and glee that Clifford experiences, and Curtis is easily able to convey these emotions and situations. One slight downside of the novel, though, is that the entirety of the story is almost self-contained with these two months. Most of the novel revolves around Clifford obtaining acts for the cabaret. However, due to the entertaining nature of the acts and the relationships that have been built between Clifford and these individuals, the story is still enjoyable to read and immersive throughout.

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