Hallie Ephron’s short story “Photoplay” serves as a prequel of sorts to her new full-length novel, Night Night, Sleep Tight. Many of the same characters appear in both pieces and yet Ephron succeeds in making each piece work as stand-alone narrative as well.
“Photoplay” drops the reader into a Hollywood party (circa 1963) in the palatial home of movie star Bunny Nichol. The glitz and glamour of old Hollywood permeates the story. Readers will meet Bunny and her teenaged daughter Joelen, as well as Joelen’s friend Deirdre Unger. The story works as a snapshot of their lives and segues nicely into the plot of the novel.
Our vantage point for this event is through the eyes of photographer Duane Foley. Duane helps readers to understand that the role of our modern-day paparazzi is hardly a new phenomenon. By the time the party is over, readers will realize that while the camera never lies, people sometimes do.
This story can be read either before or after Night Night, Sleep Tight. Either reading order is valid, although each would result in a slightly different reading experience. The party depicted in “Photoplay” does become an important element in Night Night, Sleep Tight, but Ephron has managed to keep important spoilers out of each of the narrative pieces. Whether knowing this history deepens the experience when reading the novel is debatable, but there is no doubt that it adds ambiance to the whole experience.
“Photoplay” is most successful in creating a sense of what 1960’s Hollywood was like. Readers will immediately feel immersed in the glamorous setting and they will delight in cameos by real Hollywood royalty of the time. As a short story, “Photoplay” is of course a quick read, but Hallie Ephron’s writing skill remains evident even in this shorter format. Regardless of when, be sure to check out this short story by Hallie Ephron as well as her new novel, Night Night Sleep Tight.
Scheduling Update: Look for the BOLO Books review of Night Night, Sleep Tight later this week.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.