I am about to pour myself a glass of wine and settle down in front of my computer to log into the New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders (NOAGE) Book Club for February Zoom meeting. We are discussing our book of the month, A Star Is Bored by Byron Lane, a witty novel about an assistant to a famous movie star and their complex relationship and adventures together. I’ll get to a review of the book shortly, but I wanted to discuss how I came to be part of the NOAGE Book Club in the first place.
As a voracious reader, when COVID, quarantines and lock-downs started last March, I amped up one of my favorite pastimes, sometimes reading two books a week. At a NOAGE Board meeting, when talking about how to keep our members and supporters engaged during these trying times, the suggestion of a book club arose.
And so here I am and loving every minute of it. Not only do I get to read some great books, but I am expanding my horizons with other genres and discovering talented authors. But that’s not the only perq about a book club. Like an addict, I am getting a much-needed social fix by having real discussions with bright and intelligent people. These meetings even get a little more interesting with each glass of wine. Cocktails and lively conversations with friends is just like going to a bar, but you can dress comfortably and save money.
Joining a book club has opened my eyes (and mind) to different voices and has become an incredible learning experience. The NOAGE Book Club meets once a month so you have plenty of time to read the chosen novel for the month. We even had some star power recently when Tony Award-winning actor Michael Cerveris spoke with our group when the book for that month was Fun Home by Alison Bechdel; he had starred in the musical adaptation of it on Broadway.
There are other local LGBT book clubs as well; the NOLA Gay Book Club also meets monthly. Check out its Facebook page, as well as NOAGE Book Club’s, to find out more information about each of these groups.
Now let’s talk about how much I loved A Star Is Bored. Originally from New Orleans (or rural Louisiana), Lane has created a rich and immensely moving story peppered with downright hysterical situations and memorable characters that are based on real people. I use the words “based on” loosely since the descriptives and the mannerisms sound like dead ringers for the people in his life. In addition to being a journalist, Lane worked as an assistant to several celebrities, most notably Carrie Fisher. You do not need Obi Wan Kenobi or Yoda to explain who the movie star in this novel represents.
And so our story begins in a galaxy not so far away. Charlie Besson is an unhappy mess bordering on suicidal. He has left a horrible family life to create a world for himself in Los Angeles. He settled into a dead end job as a journalist working the overnight shift which leaves little time for friends or a social life. So when an opportunity to work for Kathi Kannon, star of stage, screen and People Magazine’s Worst Dressed list, as her personal assistant surfaces, he jumps at the chance. After a weird interview, he is informed a few weeks later he got the job and his journey begins.
Kathi becomes much more than a boss, however, and as their friendship grows, Kathi becomes Charlie’s “new hope” for a better life. He soon realizes, though, that he must make a decision either to put his life on hold as he caters to the every whim of his employer who’s turned into a pseudo-mother for him or become the star of his own story and step into the limelight.
A Star Is Bored is both hilarious and poignant. What begins as lighthearted comedy morphs into a beautiful love story between two people adrift in their own chaos trying to grab a life preserver. My favorite parts of the book (and, in my opinion, the funniest) are Lane’s depictions of the assistants and their stars who befriend Charlie and induct him into their tribe. There is also a great scene that takes place at a restaurant with Kathi and Charlie that is slapstick brilliance.
Although many of the characters are flawed and in most cases self-absorbed, I still found them endearing and their interactions together heartwarming. Knowing that the book is based on Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, makes it even more heartbreaking as you know how their story played out. I highly recommend A Star Is Bored for anyone wanting to read a truly comical and unique love story.