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Louise Brooks in Contemporary Fiction II

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lulu  Louise Brooks is a cultural icon. Numerous homages have been paid to her in the arts, including literature. She has appeared as a character in novels and short stories, and her name and image (especially her haircut) have been evoked in numerous works. Presented here is a sampling of Louise Brooks in contemporary fiction. Another page of snippets from contemporary fiction can be found here.

from The Last Ship (1988) by William Brinkley

"Moving among the tables, one's gaze rested a moment on this figure. A youngish-seeming woman with a Louise Brooks hairstyle and with a modeling of shoulders that seemed to mandate the unashamed display of proud nakedness extending to the line of her breasts . . . ."

from Everybody Loves You: Further Adventures in Gay Manhattan (1988) by Ethan Mordden

"When we gather at the board, I babble, dispersing the attacks. I am like a bag lady in the scattered energy of my references. I speak of Louise Brooks, of The Egoist, of Schubert's song cycles. They nod. They ask intelligent questions."

from Never Too Rich (1990) by Judith Gould

". . . seemed to be her brown hair. It was chin-length and straight, with razor-sharp bangs slicing across her forehead, a cut Louise Brooks had made famous on- screen more than half a century earlier, and a fact that Rhoda Brackman, who had no use for frivolous entertainment, was totally unaware of. But unlike Louise Brooks, she never smiled."

from Out of Time (1990) by Paula Martinac

"I found out where, in 1927, you might send for a pattern to make a dress like the one Louise Brooks wore in Love 'Em or Leave 'Em. I read all about "It", a euphemism for sex appeal, and why Clara Bow . . . ."

from The Photograph Album (1994) by Nicole Cooley

"The production company was in the middle of editing a documentary on silent films. The part of the documentary I'd been hired to research, the five minutes devoted to 'Women of the Silent Era,' had been cut in favor of a segment on Charlie Chaplin's childhood. 'Their faces are interesting,' the director said, studying the photos I'd collected of Louise Brooks, Lillian Gish, and Pola Negri. He shrugged. 'We need somebody to do research on Chaplin's half brother. You can help with that'."

from The Lost Diaries of Frans Hals (1994) by Michael Kernan

"Laura was slender, almost as tall as he, with sleek black hair cut off above the shoulders. Like Louise Brooks, whom he had just seen in Pandora's Box. So sexy, that straight shiny black hair."

from Bombay Talkie: A Novel (1994) by Ameena Meer

"She walks toward him, watching him lean down to a woman's upturned head, her Louise Brooks hair cut falling off her angular jawline as she tilts her head, so he can kiss the other side. She's wearing a clean black dress and ropes of pearls are draped around her neck."

from Dead Things (1996) by Richard Calder

"She's quite beautiful, I suddenly realize, a hybrid of Nastassia Kinski and Ornella Muti with, perhaps, a little of Louise Brooks - minus bob - thrown in: a very European - that is, sickly-sort of beauty, very different from that Californian style to which Mephisto is so affianced, Mephisto with his yen for high-impact, low-pain-threshhold hardbodies."

from The Hearse You Came in On (1996) by Tim Cockey

"'What happened to your hair?' Julia and I were in the Admiral Fell Inn. Julia likes their martinis. 'You like?' 'You look like Louise Brooks.' 'A truly wonderful man would have said, 'I love your hair!'"

from The Unsinkable Bambi Lake: A Fairy Tale Containing the Dish on Cockettes, Punks and Angels (1996) by Bambi Lake

"Normally I brushed my Louise Brooks bob back, boy style. One night though, I was heavily cruised by what looked to be a studly Italian straight . . . ."

"I was featuring a severe 1920s Louise Brooks bob/China Doll haircut, Chinese pajamas, and groovy New York suede platform Keds. Was this the 1990s? No, it was 1972."

from The Miracle of Ivar Avenue (1997) by John Kessel

"On the dresser Kinlaw found a handful of change, a couple of twenties, a hotel key, a list of names. . . . Louise Brooks . . . . Brooks had been a hot number when Kinlaw was a kid."

from The Last Manly Man (1998) by Sparkle Hayter

"I saw instead a woman in full makeup with short dark hair -! la Louise Brooks - in a long-sleeved, pink and yellow dress. 'Who is it?' I sang, sticking my eye to the peephole."

from My Worst Date (St. Martins, 1998) by David Leddick

"And her hair was a little shorter. She has bangs and straight hair. Kind of that Louise Brooks look. But she always had that."

from Breakfast with Scot (Counterpoint, 1999) by Michael Downing

"But then Ryan got to high school, where he got high most days, and he acquired a harem of little Louise Brooks look-alikes, and his allegiance started to drift across the street, not exactly toward Sam and one, but away from his masked mother and solemn new father."

from Inheritance (Beacon, 1999) by Indira Ganesan

"My hair had been cut so many times for sickness that I wore it short. My grandmother told me that I looked like Louise Brooks, a favorite actress of hers, but I thought I resembled Alfalfa, one of the Little Rascals."

from Thunder on the Mountain (1999) by David Poyer

"She wore her hair in a close Louise Brooks helmet, and it gleamed like fresh-poured asphalt under a strange, almost mannish little hat. Her hips had a pleasing chunkiness . . . ."

from Dork of Cork (1999) by Chet Raymo

"Greta: forty-two years old, short dark hair in Louise Brooks bangs, smart trousered suit, pink Egyptian cotton shirt, a man's black silk tie; no longer sexually intimate with her . . . ."

from A Student of Weather (2000) by Elizabeth Hay

"She sat very still inside her happiness. "George Raft and Ethel Waters," offered Norma Joyce. "Claude Rains and Louise Brooks. Luise Rainer and Orson Welles." Maurice laughed and said he liked the way her mind worked, and so she kept it up until she had nine couples."

from Catching Alice (2000) by Clare Naylor

"A sleek brunette with a Louise Brooks bob held out her hand as Alice stepped out of the lift into an open-plan office space with a spectacular view of the Hollywood sign. "

from An Empire of Women (2000) by Karen Shepard

"Cam ran her hand through her hair. It was a new cut. It made her look like an Asian Louise Brooks."

from Downers Grove (2001) by Michael Hornburg

" . . . a milk white late-night crowd of pierced and branded thrift store bandits. The girl beside me wore a Louise Brooks wig, a white rubber dress, and silver accessories: necklace, polish, and shoes."

from My Worst Date (2001) by David Leddick

"And her hair was a little shorter. She has bangs and straight hair. Kind of that Louise Brooks look. But she always had that. When she shows me pictures when she was modeling she wore her hair like that then, too."

from A Wild People (2001) by Hugh Leonard

"Her hair was blonde but had the sleek, helmeted shine of an old-time movie legend named Louise Brooks. She was quick-witted."

from This Too Can Be Yours (2001) by Beth Lisick

"So while you looked sleek and retro, like Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box, I looked like a fucking Judd over there. And not Ashley. You know I meant the other."

from The Center of Things (2001) by Jenny McPhee

"Marie braced herself. 'You look just like Clara Bow or Louise Brooks, or no, I've got it, Cyd Charisse,' he said with perfect incredulity, 'when she dances with Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain. It was a compliment of the highest order, a perfect pitch lie, which meant he wanted something."

from Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl (2001) by Tracy Quan

" . . . so you could see her numerous tattoos - front and sides - peeping through the rubber 'slats.' Like pictures behind a venetian blind. Her Louise Brooks bob was dyed lime green, the same color as her fetish pumps. She was selling buttons that promised . . . ."

from Plane Crash Theory (2001) by Dani Shapiro

"Finally we chose Marsha. She was young and pretty. with a Louise Brooks bob and big brown eyes. She was so gentle, so sweet that her eyes seemed to be constantly brimming with tears."

from Grand Ambition (Norton, 2002) by Lisa Michaels

" 'I like your hair short,' Greta said. 'You look like Louise Brooks.' She drew a comb through Bessie's dark bob, smoothing it against her cheek, then faced her in the glass. 'We look like two sides of a woodcut,' she said. 'Illustrating what?' Bessie smiled. 'Virtue and vice? I think I'm miscast.' "

from The Chelsea Whistle (2002) by Michelle Tea

"Juniper's hair was a perfect shiny bob on her head, short and black like Louise Brooks, whom she loved. She smudged dark eye shadow around her eyes to accent how fucked up she was."

from Alamo House (2003) by Sarah Bird

"The coeds mostly had Louise Brooks haircuts and wore sunglasses that turned them into movie stars, heedless, cruel, and dying to sleep with other people’s boyfriends. Mine in particular."

from Garbo Laughs (2003) by Elizabeth Hay

" 'Louise Brooks said Fatty Arbuckle was a wonderful dancer,' she said. 'It was like floating in the arms of a huge donut.' "

from The Ticket Out (2003) by Helen Knode

"Among the people who did show up were Robert Siodmak's brother; Francis Lederer, Louise Brooks's costar in Pandora's Box; and John Alton. I first spotted him in the lobby of the Hilton."

from My Last Movie Star (2003) by Martha Sherrill

"And memories, darling. All the men, the women, all one's lovers. I may not have made many movies, darling, but I beat the rest of them in lovers. Only Louise Brooks and Grace Kelly might have come close . . . ."

from The Playgroup (2003) by Nelsie Spencer

"A pretty woman with a Louise Brooks haircut in a trendy suit had stopped in the middle of her question about how to change the dynamics between adult siblings. . . . Ellie watched as Sara gave the Louise Brooks clone's book a quick signing and thanked her for coming."

from The Fraternity (Pinnacle Books, 2004) by Stephen Gresham

"A live girl. A beauty. A real bearcat. I met her two nights ago after the freshman mixer. She was walking alone on the quad, and she was wrapped in a fur coat, and her eyes were so striking and her black, black hair — she could have doubled for Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box."

from The Ornithologist's Guide to Life: Stories (Norton, 2004) by Ann Hood

"His father has lived on the Upper West Side with a woman, Veronica, since he left. Veronica looks exactly like the old movie star Louise Brooks. She does that on purpose, then acts surprised when people go up to her and say 'You look exactly like Louise Brooks!' "

from The Girl with the Golden Bouffant (2004) by Mabel Maney

"". . . and her white lipstick had been drawn outside her mouth in an attempt to turn thin lips into a Louise Brooks pouty cupid's bow."

from The Matter of Desire (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) by Edmundo Paz Soldan

"". . . he sat with the G4 to his right — Louise Brooks and other silent movie stars parading by on the screensaver — placed a white sheet of paper on the desk, made a grid twenty-one by twenty-one, and began his work."



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