The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus
Read by Natalie May 2011 and her book pick of the month for May 2011. The Afterparty is a hiliarious and clever look at celebrity life in Britain. Spanning one night "that never happened" in April, the book weaves 4 lives together following a crisis event at The Afterparty in addition to marketing itself as being a book like nothing you've ever read before. A great book and sure to generate lots of discussion. Click here to read the full book review.
|1.||Did you Google any of the characters read about in the book?|
|2.||Of the four main characters Michael, Calvin, Hugo and Mellody who do you think is most to blame for what happened?|
|3.||Which sections of dialogue do you think were lifted from other sources? Which sources?|
|4.||Do the marketing ideas that surround the book make you think less of it? Why? Do you plan to enter any of the competitions?|
|5.||Did you feel this was an accurate depiction of life as an A-list celebrity?|
|6.||How did you find the exuberant writing style? Did this detract from your enjoyment of the story, or enhance it?|
|7.||Do you think that the Leo Benedictus depicted in the author photograph really is the author?|
|8.||How did what you read in the emails affect your experience of the story inside them?|
|9.||Do you feel you learned anything new about celebrity, media or publishing from reading The Afterparty?|
|10.||The world *is* a novel, says William Mendez at one point. Do you agree?|
|11.||Does The Afterparty strike you as an attack on the vacuity of celebrity culture, or an attempt to describe it sympathetically?|
|12.||On finishing the book, did you feel you knew what story it had been telling? How exactly?|
These questions are provided by Leo Benedictus and he welcomes any comments or additional questions.
Q and A with Leo Benedictus
Leo has kindly answered all the questions posted on facebook and emailed into us - here is his response! if you have any more questions, feel free to send them in and we will be sure to pass them onto him.
Was the sheep dog incident based on fact?
The sheepdog story, I am glad to say, is pure invention. One of the great joys of fiction-writing, to be able to make stuff like that up. It's a rare occasion in the book where I just go straight for some (ghastly) comedy. I would have cut it later, I think, if my agent and others hadn't told me they enjoyed it so much.
Are you friends with any of the celebs involved, and if so what did they think of their involvement?
No, I wouldn't say I was friends with any of the celebrities mentioned in the novel, although I think I have interviewed a few at one time or another. My hope is that none of them would mind being included, and might even quite enjoy it. I certainly did not intend to have a pop at any of them personally, but rather to play with their public image, which may well be (indeed probably is) a different thing entirely.
Have you ever been to one of these Afterparties?
Sort of. I've been to quite a few events at which famous people have been present - not because I'm fabulously well connected, I ought to stress, but because celebrities and journalists (my day job) often mingle at awards dos, arts festivals, premieres, launches, and the like. But have I been invited back to a famous person's home to take drugs all night? No, definitely not.
Are the four main characters based on celebrities, a mixture of celebrities or are they fictional characters?
It's an interesting question you ask, because, to me, it immediately suggests another one: Could any character in a novel ever BE completely fictional? Certainly Michael, Hugo, Calvin and Mellody are all invented people, but in inventing them I was influenced by my knowledge of real ones. Hugo Marks, the posh actor, rings some obvious Hugh Grant/Jude Law bells, but then he is also clearly different from them both. Mellody and Kate Moss is a clear connection too, but again there are big differences. Calvin, meanwhile, could be any young wannabe on X-Factor or Big Brother, but most of all I think of him as just very young, behaving badly out of innocence, as I shudder to remember myself and others doing. I used to be a subeditor like Michael, so I'm probably the closest analogue there.
The book within the book idea was this done to make the reader question what was real and what was fake?
Very much. I don't know about you, but when I'm reading a novel, even quite a conventional novel, I do get swept away inside the book's fictional universe, but I also snap out of it from time to time and find myself looking at the jacket, the blurb, the author's biog, their picture. I like to think about what the author is doing with the book, how well it works, who they are, what other people have said about it... and so on. It's not just about the words on the page; I feel that all these external things influence my reading a great deal. So I wanted to write a novel that included them deliberately, not just to make readers think about the novel's own creation (which I'm guessing we all do anyway), but to bring those thoughts inside the fiction - and make it fun!
What are you writing about next?
Boy, oh boy... It's essentially a mystery novel, like a detective story, but totally new. I'm interested in the creative possibilities of ebooks, so I want to see what I can do with that. It's very exciting, as there's so much scope for doing things that have never been done before, but also rather risky. Without having read any books like this before, I don't really know exactly how to make it work. No more parties and celebrities, anyway. This time it's criminals and writers, but with twists and turns that - if I can make them work - will blow your socks off! (That's me getting excited right there.)
Is the Afterparty going to be made into a movie who would you cast?
There's no movie deal in place at the moment, although there have been a few producers toying with it. The issue, of course, is how you make a film from a book-within-a-book. I think I know how - and it would be great - but it could be a more than usually challenging script to write. As for whom to cast, my dream I think would be to see some of the really "obvious" celebrities in those roles - someone like Hugh Grant as Hugo, perhaps even someone who used to have a drug problem (like Lindsay Lohan?) as Mellody. It would add a dimension, in keeping with the book, to cast people mischievously like this.