Creepy. Haunting. Chilling. Tantalizing. These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe Marisha Pessl's mysterious thriller Night Film, which is so layered and full of misdirection that it's as fun to discuss as it is to read. And that's why it's the latest pick for our book club.
Everybody has a Cordova story. Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn't been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an engima. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.
On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.
For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.
The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality.
ONCE WE FACE OUR DEEPEST FEARS, WHAT LIES ON THE OTHER SIDE?
"NIGHT FILM" DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- How did you first believe Ashley Cordova died? Did you continue believing that?
- What drives Scott McGrath? Is it a desire to repair his reputation or an obsession with the mysterious Stanislas Cordova?
- How many red herrings did you notice in this book?
- How were Nora and Hopper useful to Scott's mission? How were they a hindrance?
- What did it say about Scott that he was willing to team up with these unknown youths?
- How does Pessl manage to turn Stanislas into a main character without actually featuring him?
- What role do trapdoors play in Night Film? "Just when you think you've hit rock bottom, you realize you're standing on another trapdoor."
- What did you think of Pessl's integration of other media — photos, articles, webpages? Did they add or take away from the story?
- How quickly did you read this book? Did you feel energized or slowed down by the mass of details and twists?
- Could a subculture like the one that surrounds Stanislas exist in our society? Do you know of any creators with a cult-like following such as his?
- How does fear affect the various characters? How do some of them use it as a tool, or even a weapon?
When I first read this book in early 2014, I couldn't read it at night. I've always been terrible with scary, creepy stuff in the dark. So I made these coffee ice pops to capture the way it gave me chills and kept me on edge. Revisiting it now elicited the same reactions. Powerful. For this menu, I think they'd be great as ice cube stand-ins for your cold coffee.