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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. A second page of snippets from contemporary fiction can be found here.

from Our Lady of Darkness (1978) by Fritz Leiber, Jr.

"But true glamour is age-less, they say; consider Marlene Dietrich, Louise Brooks, or Arletty, or that doyenne of them all - Cleopatra."

Fritz Leiber, Jr. was one of the most distinguished American genre novelists (fantasy / horror / sci-fi) of the post-war era. His father was a noted Shakespearean actor who also appeared in silent films.

from Ghost Story (1979) by Peter Straub

"Ricky watched her go, amused and touched. He bad seen nothing like it since Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box."

"She reminded me of Louise Brooks. Though I don't suppose Louise Brooks's eyes were green."

Peter Straub is considered one of the most commercially and critically successful genre writers of the past four decades. He is well know for his horror novels, and has collaborated with Stephen King on a few bestsellers.

from Charley Bland (1989) by Mary Lee Settle

". . . a cloche hat. Nobody was looking at the camera except Dearie, without a hat, her sleek black hair cut like Louise Brooks's, staring startled at what must . . . ."

Mary Lee Settle is a well regarded novelist, the author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, and the winner of the National Book Award in 1978.

from Flicker (1991) by Theodore Roszak

"Curt has become passionately involved (filmically speaking) with Louise Brooks. . . . But there is the possibility - just the possibility - that luscious Louise makes her German film debut here. . . . There was little more we could find about the movie beyond a few passing references in a study of the German director Georg Pabst. The references had to do with Louise Brooks. Pabst was the man who turned Brooks into a star, featuring her as the classic vamp in his Pandora's Box. But before Pabst discovered her sexual allure . . . . Louise Brooks was selected to play the role of Mary Magdalen in a reportedly sensational interpretation."

Theodore Roszak is an acclaimed novelist (The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein), historian and social critic whose much-discussed, National Book Award nominated non-fiction works include The Making of a Counter Culture, Where the Wasteland Ends, and The Cult of Information. Flicker, praised by The Sunday Times of London as a "A brilliantly executed metaphysical thriller," - is a secret history of cinema which involves, among other things, a lost film featuring Louise Brooks.

from Leviathan (1992) by Paul Auster

"Only Sachs could have known something like that. Only Sachs could have informed you that when the film actress Louise Brooks was growing up in a small town in Kansas at the beginning of the century, her next-door playmate was Vivian Vance, the same woman who later starred in the I Love Lucy show. It thrilled him to have discovered this: that the two sides of American womanhood, the vamp and the frump, the libidinous sex-devil and the dowdy housewife, should have started in the same place, on the same dusty street in the middle of America."

"He took note of the unmade bed, the clumps of discarded clothes and underwear, the portable television crowned with two-lipstick stained coffee cups, the books and magazines scattered across the floor. Sachs scanned a few of the titles at his feet (an illustrated guide to Oriental massage, a study of reincarnation, a couple of paperback detective novels, a biography of Louise Brooks) and wondered if any conclusions could be drawn from this assortment."

Poet, translator and filmmaker Paul Auster is also one of the most acclaimed novelists of his generation. Among his other works is Lulu on the Bridge, a film which features a character acting in a remake of Pandora's Box

from Gone Tomorrow (1993) by Gary Indiana

". . . a few feet from where the camera was being mounted. They studied the mise-en-scène together, then Maria came running up, Louise Brooks hair slapping her cheeks. She panted extravagantly. 'Any makeup is going to melt right off them,' she told Paul."

from Rent Boy (1994) by Gary Indiana

". . . and she's got her hair styled, I mean all unratted and dyed black and cut like, who else, Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box, with that vivid '30s makeup that's more like a vamp than a slut."

Gary Indiana has been described as "one of the most important chroniclers of the American psyche." A one time art critic for the Village Voice, he has authored various works of fiction and non-fiction.

from Nevermore (1994) by William Hjortsberg

excerpt to come

Set in New York City in the 1920's, Hjortsberg's literary mystery was hailed by the New York Times as "Powerfully dramatic and cleverly worked out." Hjortsberg is the author of several screenplays and works of fiction. Brooks appears on the cover of the English editions.

from Galilee (1998) by Clive Barker

"But the only deal he really wanted in Hollywood he failed to make, and that was with an actress called Louise Brooks. He met her first at the premiere of Beggars of Life, a Paramount picture she'd made, starring opposite Wallace Beery. She'd seemed to Cadmus an almost supernatural presence; for the first time, he said to a friend, he believed in the idea of Eden; of a perfect garden from which men might be exiled because of the manipulations of a woman. The subject of this metaphysical talk, Louise herself, was without question a great beauty: her dark sleek hair cut almost boyishly to frame a pale, exquisitely sculptured face. But she was also an ambitious and intellectually astute woman, who wasn't interested in being an object d'art for Cadmus or anybody else. She left for Germany the next year, to star in two pictures there, one of which, Die Büchse der Pandora, would immortalize her. Cadmus was by now so enraptured that he sailed to Europe in the hope of a liason, and it seems she was not entirely scornful of his advances. They dined together; and took day trips when her filming schedule allowed. But it seems she was dallying with him. When she went back to filming she complained to her director, a man called Pabst, that the presence of Geary on set was spoiling her concentration and could he please be removed? There was some kind of minor fracas later that week, when Cadmus - who had apparently attempted to purchase the studio that was making Die Büchse der Pandora in the interim, and failed - forced his way onto the set in the hope of talking to her. She refused to speak to him and he was forcibly removed. Three days later he was on a ship headed back to America. His 'folly,' as he would later call this episode, was over."

" . . . but after the Louise Brooks episode he never came so close to the blissful condition of love as when he was in full capitalist flight. Only then did he feel alive the way he had when he'd first met Kitty, or when he followed Louise to Germany . . . . To give you an example: Rachel, when she smiles a certain way, has something of Louise Brooks's wicked humor in her eyes; along with Louise's dark, shiny hair, of course. It's useful for you to know how devoted Cadmus was to Louise, if you're to understand how the presence of Rachel will later affect him."

"Eleanor, her rejected daughter, died in hearty old age, as did Louise Brooks, who gave up her career in cinema in the early thirties finding the whole endeavor too trivial to be endured. . . . Loretta had played Broadway in her youth, but, like Louise, tired of her powerlessness."

Clive Barker is a world famous writer of horror and fantasy fiction (Books of Blood), a filmmaker (Hellraiser), and movie producer (Gods and Monsters).

from Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions (1998) by Neil Gaiman

"She was the queen of the silver screen. She was finer than any of them: Mary Pickford or Lillian Gish or Theda Bara or Louise Brooks.... She was the finest. She had 'it.'"

"She was, from the photographs, not a contemporary beauty. She lacked the transcendence of a Louise Brooks, the sex appeal of a Marilyn Monroe, the sluttish elegance of a Rita Hayworth."

Neil Gaiman is an immensely popular English-born fantasy author whose works include a graphic novel, The Books of Magic (DC Comics, 1993), which features a character somwhat modelled after Louise Brooks. American Gods won the 2001 Bram Stoker Award, 2002 Nebula Award and 2002 Hugo Award.

from White Oleander (1999) by Janet Fitch

"Instead, I made Oskar one of his own for his birthday, with Louise Brooks as Lulu, and inflation marks in denominations of hundreds of thousands, toy train tracks like veins, and a black plastic clay swamp in the bottom printed with a giant bootprint that I filed with clear, green-tinted gel."

Janet Fitch's first novel, White Oleander, was a massive bestseller which was made into a popular film. Here, the narrator refers to Duchamp-like museums she makes inside discarded suitcases.

from The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999) by Salman Rushdie

" . . . by the emerging gay icon lil dagover, who insists on lower-case initials, wears men's suits and a monocle and a Louise Brooks haircut, and plays like an expressionist dream."

Salman Rushdie is a world famous Anglo-Indian novelist whose works include The Satanic Verses and the Booker Prize-winning Midnight's Children.

from Coldheart Canyon (2001) by Clive Barker

" 'Louise Brooks said to me once: there's nothing they can give that would be worth my freedom. She partied with the rest of us, but in the end she gave it all up, and moved away. She said they were trying to take her soul by boring her to death.' 'So she gave up making movies?' 'Indeed she did. But Louise was a rare example."

Clive Barker is a world famous writer of horror and fantasy fiction (Books of Blood), a filmmaker (Hellraiser), and movie producer (Gods and Monsters).

from American Gods (2001) by Neil Gaiman

"Toward the end of the afternoon they stopped, at Czernobog's request, on the outskirts of Cherryvale, Kansas . . . . Even thirty years after they forced my people into hiding, this land, this very land, gave uis the greatest movie star of all time. She was the greatest there ever wwas. 'Judy Garland?' asked Shadow. Czernobog shook his head curtly. 'He's talking about Louise Brooks,' said Mr Nancy. Shadow decided not to ask who Louise Brooks was."

" 'Hey,' Shadow said. "Do you know who Louise Brooks was?' 'Friend of yours?' 'Nope. She was a movie star from south of here'."

Neil Gaiman is an immensely popular English-born fantasy author whose works include a graphic novel, The Books of Magic (DC Comics, 1993), which features a character somwhat modelled after Louise Brooks. American Gods won the 2001 Bram Stoker Award, 2002 Nebula Award and 2002 Hugo Award.

from Cleopatra Brimstone (2001) by Elizabeth Hand

" 'Did you do something different with your hair?' She nodded once, brushing the edge of her bangs with a finger. 'Yeah.' 'Nice. Very Louise Brooks.'"

Elizabeth Hand's novella, Cleopatra Brimstone, was nominated for the 2002 World Fantasy Award. This long story was first published in Redshift: Extreme Visions of Speculative Fiction.

from Fall on Your Knees (2001) by Ann-Marie MacDonald

"Frances is supposed to be here but she is at the Empire Theatre, watching Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box again before the authorities get wind and its gets banned."

"She has scorched her hair in an effort to straighten it, and always before her mind's eye is Louise Brooks, with her jet-black shingle and fringe. . . . Louise Brooks has usurped Lillian Gish in Frances's heart and on her wall. Lillian survives now only in an honorary capacity, alone on her virginal ice floe. Louise smolders from beneath a black widow's veil, smirks in a tuxedo, flirts over the rim of a champagne glas, simpers on Jack the Ripper's knee, and sprawls in a wicked heap, naked but for a handful of feathers. She is the best and the worst girl in the world. She is also the most modern."

"Frances wishes for a fairy godmother to swathe her in ostrich feathers; in breasts, hips, lips and lipstick - a husky contralto which she imagines to be Louise Brooks's voice. . . . On Monday, Frances skips school and heads for Satchel-Ass Chism's barber shop. She shows him a picture of Louise Brooks. He shakes his head. 'I don't know how to cut ladies' hair - ' . . . . Frances's reflections on the subject of romance are summed up by the last scene of Pandora's Box: when Louise Brooks finally gives it away to a fella for free, he ups and kils her."

"Ginger hands over his nickel and enters the Empire. It's a silent, Diary of a Lost Girl starring Louise Brooks. Not many people. It should be easy to spot Frances if she is here. . . . The picture ends, 'IF THERE WERE MORE LOVE IN THIS WORLD, NO ONE WOULD EVER HAVE TO BE LOST'."

Set partly in New York City in the 1920s, Fall on Your Knees includes many references to Louise Brooks, as well as a chapter titled "Diary of a Lost Girl." This acclaimed novel (winner of the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best First Book) by the celebrated Canadian playwright, actor, journalist and novelist was a popular bestseller after having been chosen by Oprah for her monthly book club.

from The Time Traveler's Wife (2003) by Audrey Niffenegger

"Kimy bats her eyelashes at me like she's Louise Brooks or somebody. 'Hey, buddy, I am stuck on this crossword. Nine down, starts with K....' "

Audrey Niffenegger is the author of The Time Traveler's Wife, a highly regarded bestseller.

from Oh, Play That Thing (2004) by Roddy Doyle

"What about that Louise? He was talking about Louise Brooks, the movie woman; the same words, same conclusion, every morning. Today, I got there before him."

Roddy Doyle is the author of six previous novels, including a Booker Prize finalist, The Van, and a Booker Prize-winning international bestseller, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. He has also written several screenplays.

from I, Fatty (2004) by Jerry Stahl

"For the most part, Educational was the kind of place where nobody really met anybody's else's eyes. It was the studio where you began working for the sole purpose of making enough money to stop working there. I met the very young Louise Brooks at Educational, while directing Windy Riley Goes Hollywood. Louise, like anybody with a thimble of ambition, was just passing through. Educational, it was common knowledge, stood out as last stop for many an older talent, and as the only stop for young ones with no talent at all. Both of which were fine with me."

Jerry Stahl is the author of the bestselling memoir Permanent Midnight. He is a novelist, and his fiction and nonfiction have been published in numerous magazines. He has also written extensively for film and television.



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