Tag Archives: Cal R. Barnes

Book Review: ‘True Grandeur’ by Cal R. Barnes

Title: True Grandeur: A Hollywood Novel

Published: 20th September 2017

Publisher: Magic Hour Press

Author: Cal R. Barnes

 

Synopsis:

TRUE GRANDEUR is the tale of Conrad Arlington, a young man who moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a great artist. Within a few short years of his arrival, Conrad’s success as a writer brings him to the attention of Gracie Garrison, a beautiful and alluring socialite whose glamorous lifestyle is just as mysterious as the rumors that surround her. After spending a spirited and adventurous night on the town together – one fueled by an excess of beautiful people, extravagant parties, gallery openings, and the madness of a fallen director – Conrad ultimately falls in love with her, believing them to be destined. However, when he awakens the next morning to find that Gracie is gone, he is distraught, and thus embarks on his relentless journey to find her, resulting in a tumultuous spiral of passion, art, and romance as he searches his soul to try and uncover the greatest mystery of all – true love.

At its core, True Grandeur is not just a love story, but rather an in-depth study on contemporary romanticism, of how ideals shape one’s need for individuality and importance, and of how sociological factors such as fame, wealth, and social class contribute to one’s ability to receive – or not receive – true love. It’s a story of what it means to feel deeply, and attempts to accurately illustrate the internal progression of feeling that is the artist’s journey.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by an author who uses initials in their pen name.

This story it told through POV of Conrad Arlington who moves to Hollywood to make it as an artist. Will it swallow him up and spit him out or will he make it? To say that his belief in his talent abilities is high would be an understatement. It’s this mentality that drives him. His father and the great Arlington’s before him made sure of this kind of self worth and confidence. He wants to be ‘the last true artist’ but his attitude just comes off as being a bit obnoxious.

After finding and falling for a girl right off the bat he finds that his obsession in getting lost in her drove a different kind of artistic expression from him. He began to write about what he was feeling. His carefree attitude changes his views on what he wants to do after being there for a few years. Writing works as he can control the stories when things become uncontrollable around him. It’s creating a script that leads to meeting his next obsession.

Gracie auditions for a part in Conrad’s noir screenplay. Her eyes seem to have the ability to freeze him in the spot. He is drawn to the raw emotion behind her actions and longs to know her. So it’s good that she just happens to bump into him later at a bar. Just when his dreams of getting his film up and running falls through Gracie pops up to possibly save the day. In Hollywood it’s not what you know but rather who you know that helps. But is all what it seems? Rumours told at a party might start to fill in the blanks. Or maybe just raise more questions. Which isn’t good as that’s Gracie’s main rule – don’t ask questions.

Conrad is so easily infatuated with her that she could bend him to her will to do anything. He knows she could have anybody, so is shocked that she sort of chooses him. Will the charade last? Well long enough to get him to drive her around all night to the strange amount of parties and friends she needs to see. Talk about a weird night to remember. With the amount of booze he was meant to have put away I want to know how he could see straight, let alone drive anywhere? He falls for her hook, link and sinker. So you can imagine what might happen if she vanished. Feeling lost but longing to find her he turns into a bit of a creepy stalker not wanting to believe that it was in all honestly a dream of sorts with her. Will he get his dream back or be lost to the illusion forever?

I found at times that there was just a bit too much description before getting to some actual dialogue. There was just too much time in his head waiting for him to get to the point. Also how many times does he really need to say that he is ‘The Last True Artist’? Mainly comes into play when his pride has been hurt and he needs to pull himself out of the dark.

An interesting read but I just didn’t click with the main character. He just came across as annoying and a bit of a selfish prick at the end in regards to how he treated certain people who might have been the better choice. You can see how he got swept up in the ‘Hollywood’ vibe and the allure of Gracie. He thought he loved her but she was just an illusion of sorts. So it’s a shame how he throws away something real for it when it could never be. The dialogue bits were good but there was just too much in his head for my liking.

3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Author Interview: ‘True Grandeur – A Hollywood Novel’ by Cal R. Barnes

About the Book:

TRUE GRANDEUR is the tale of Conrad Arlington, a young man who moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a great artist. Within a few short years of his arrival, Conrad’s success as a writer brings him to the attention of Gracie Garrison, a beautiful and alluring socialite whose glamorous lifestyle is just as mysterious as the rumors that surround her. After spending a spirited and adventurous night on the town together – one fueled by an excess of beautiful people, extravagant parties, gallery openings, and the madness of a fallen director – Conrad ultimately falls in love with her, believing them to be destined. However, when he awakens the next morning to find that Gracie is gone, he is distraught, and thus embarks on his relentless journey to find her, resulting in a tumultuous spiral of passion, art, and romance as he searches his soul to try and uncover the greatest mystery of all – true love.

At its core, True Grandeur is not just a love story, but rather an in-depth study on contemporary romanticism, of how ideals shape one’s need for individuality and importance, and of how sociological factors such as fame, wealth, and social class contribute to one’s ability to receive – or not receive – true love. It’s a story of what it means to feel deeply, and attempts to accurately illustrate the internal progression of feeling that is the artist’s journey.

 

 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

Hi, my name is Cal. I live in Los Angeles. Aside from novels I also write plays and screenplays and make films. I’m vegetarian and practice yoga daily. I enjoy hikes, reading, and spending time at the beach and fresh water lakes whenever I get the chance to. I’ve been writing pretty consistently since I was younger. English and creative writing were always subjects I excelled in so trying to just use the gifts I’ve been given.

2: Do you have a favorite time and place where you write?

I usually write outside for a few hours in the morning in my yard with my coffee. I have few hours before the sun hits directly around noon. It’s nice, and peaceful, and good place to think. Then at noon I sit in the sun for a while : )

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I get most of my ideas from real life experience, or for pure fiction I guess you could say I pull it from the ether. I don’t know where some of it comes from, exactly — sure isn’t me — I think if a story wants to be told, it finds a way to be told. I believe the story looks for a vehicle or writer that that is at a place in life where he/she can relate, and has the capability of telling the story truthfully. I believe stories are higher than us. They come from a higher place. It’s the human spirit wanting to be more, striving to be more. Stories in a way help take us there.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

If I have passion or inspiration for a story I usually just start writing, knowing and trusting that I will be intuitively guided. There is usually a whole-istic feel for the story that I have going in. For the most part it’s worked out well so far. The story is already complete, it just needs to be told skillfully – that’s where the writer comes in.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

To date I’ve written mostly literary fiction, that is, literature as art. True Grandeur I’d say is literary fiction. I’ve been inspired mainly by well-written American and Los Angeles fiction, a great deal of which are probably considered ‘Great American Novels.’ They are great for a reason. They capture a time, place, and feeling; and have the ability to put the reader, life, art, and story together to create a timeless experience. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed reading, although I may be moving more towards the heightened and fantastic in some of my upcoming work. There’s a time and place for everything.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

For Conrad, I could see Andrew Garfield or someone similar. I really like his earlier English films. Someone sophisticated with a lot of depth and truth in them. The character is 23 in the novel, so he’d have to be young, boyish, innocent, and all-believing. Conrad is a weighted character. He feels everything all the time. For Gracie, I always saw her as a Sienna Miller type, a kind of young Audrey Hepburn. She’d have to be a girl with that God-given ‘it factor’. It’s a pre-requisite to play a character that complex.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I read practically everyday and I have a lot of favorite authors. To name a few off the top of my head I like F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Fante, Harold Robbins, and currently I’m really enjoying the work of Neil Gaiman who wrote American Gods.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Right now I’m finishing Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and also finishing up John Fante’s ‘Arturo Bandini’ series. I read them out of order, but I just finished The Road to Los Angeles and I am about to start Wait Until Spring, Bandini. He’s really got a unique style, and I love the arrogance of his alter ego. I think it was perfect for the time. As an artist starting out in this world you almost have to be arrogant to some extent — or something like it, even if it’s false — because no one else will believe in you unless you believe in yourself first. Later on, then, if you’re successful, that arrogance can soften itself into humility and gratitude, but starting out you need all push in whichever way you can get it. You have to believe in yourself so blindly that you have no choice but to succeed. I don’t think any other writer captures that like John Fante. I read Ask the Dust back in 2011 and it definitely spoke to me at the time. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to the rest of the series. Ask the Dust is definitely one of the greatest Los Angeles novels, if not the greatest overall.

9: What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book would have to be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s just everything. For the time and place it was everything it was suppose to be, and more. That book is just higher – untouchable – it’s the soul of America to date. Love, yearning, desire, heartbreak, struggle, faith – it’s the American Dream in the form of a perfect, romantic tale. It’s a timeless classic.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Just start writing. That’s it. Write and let the words take you. I find the hardest part of writing is just getting going. Once you’re in, you’re in — you’re connected — tune in and let the words take you…

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

I’d say connect with me on Goodreads or feel free to get in touch with me directly through my website, CalBarnes.com. I have a contact form on there and all inquiries are welcome.

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/17008582.Cal_R_Barnes

About the Author:

Cal R. Barnes was born in Salem, OR in 1988. After briefly studying creative writing and drama at Portland State University in Portland, OR, Cal moved to Los Angeles in 2009 where he immediately began acting and writing screenplays. After a few years he also began producing films as well, enjoying all aspects of the creative process. Cal currently lives and writes in Los Angeles. He is a connoisseur of literature, film, yoga, fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, and sunshine. True Grandeur is his first novel.

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