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BOOK REVIEW Genius
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times Review by Ashley Collins
2018-07-10

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To begin, Genius is a crazily illustrated work of art that tells the story between two individuals who both have an unpredictable appreciation for writing, film production, and screening movies—but their relationship also has many twists and turns that will drive the reader crazy.

In this fiction so many things feel absolutely real; there's humor and a series of stories that spill over about one character who just cannot seem to get his life back on track. The book's structure is written as if the story really happened, with Patrick Dennis, the author, playing a role in the book, giving the story a much more personal touch.

Dennis, also the author of Auntie Mame, here depicts Leander Starr, a famous director whose is both a broken man and a complete master in the world of film, given to quarrels where he breaks down and cries, screams and then goes silent to demand attention. His is a story about mishaps, love, anger and confusion.

The book itself isn't just one story; rather, it's made up of various characters' individual stories, from how they first met Leander Starr to where they are later in life, and how they again land right back in the hands of a director who is seen as a crook and a liar.

In the beginning of the book, Patrick describes his own relationship with Starr and how that relationship eventually crumbled. Starr is running from his problems: He is in tons of debt, owes back alimony to three ex-wives, and has the IRS following him from country to country. He also has an 18-year-old child who wants a relationship.

It all nevertheless ends up with a man who is a complete genius in what he does, getting a performance out of anyone he has in front of the camera. Starr's depiction is shady and heartbreaking, constantly pouring out his passion to both make movies and turn people into stars. He does all this in style: A man who is completely broke, yet dressed in an all-white alligator shirt, Starr can sweet talk anyone and, before you know it, his entire bill at dinner is paid for. He is a classic scheme artist.

Dennis' style of writing is astonishing because he is able to make you live in the story and be one of the characters who yearn for a relationship with this crooked man. He defines each character perfectly, from Catalina Ximenez's awkwardly orchestrated bone structure and black feathery lashes, to Gonzalez, a Mexican film producer who couldn't understand one lick of English but has a figure seemingly right out of can of biscuits. Dennis writes with illustration and structure that lets him catch you before you even know that you're caught.


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