Book Review: I’ll Take You There
Wally Lamb’s novel spotlights a spirit of early Hollywood, but its Metabook edition gives her a 21st century showcase
Reviewed by Robert Faires, Fri., Dec. 2, 2016
The measure of a true professional may not be how hard that person works in life but how hard that person works in death. That's one takeaway from I'll Take You There, the latest novel by mega-bestseller Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone). The ghost who drives the action, that of pioneering silent-film director Lois Weber (who was in actuality a major force in early Hollywood), isn't content just to haunt a Connecticut vaudeville house; she's still making pictures in it. What in another book might be flashbacks are here films that Weber has made about lead character Felix Funicello (recycled from Lamb's novel Wishin' and Hopin') and shown to Funicello on the theatre's movie screen so he can literally re-view his life.
Lamb's fans can enjoy the book the old-fashioned way – HarperCollins has released it in hardback – but I'll Take You There is also getting the full-blown multimedia app treatment from cutting-edge publisher Metabook. Not only do you get the full text of the book, you get an audio dramatization headlined by Kathleen Turner as Weber and also starring Laura Benanti, Dana Delany, and Jeremy Sisto; an eight-song soundtrack, with Janis Ian delivering a new acoustic version of her hit "At Seventeen," Britain's Croydon SDA Gospel Choir performing "I'll Take You There," and "Change" by Hélène Muddiman; a short film, "Yours Sincerely, Lois Weber," directed by Svetlana Cvetko and starring Elizabeth Banks; a documentary narrated by Lamb; 360-degree photo galleries; social-media sharing features; and discussion questions prepped by the author. Whew!
Considering that 100 years ago, the real Lois Weber was pushing the boundaries of a new entertainment medium – like making films about capital punishment, wage equity, drug abuse, and contraception – this app of I'll Take You There must have the shade of Lois Weber smiling with satisfaction.
I’ll Take You Thereby Wally Lamb
HarperCollins, $25.99; Metabook app, $14.99