The private lives of Hollywood movie stars are a source of endless mystique for a curious and gossip-hungry public. Superstar and artificially cultivated beauty Emma Fine is no exception, especially when her married lover Ted is discovered bobbing face-down in her pool.
Michelle Berry's Blur (Random House Canada, cloth, ISBN: 0679311416) is a fictional exploration of a public's morbid fascination with the lives of the notorious. Berry's vehicle is Bruce Dermott, a washed-out tabloid journalist afflicted with lassitude and a crippling inferiority complex.
Bored senseless and out of beer, Bruce's impromptu shopping trip for office supplies blossoms into an aggrandized spy adventure when he spots the long-disappeared Emma Fine. Convinced the discovery is his ticket to journalistic stardom, Bruce engages in compulsive behaviourůstalking the purported star and digging through endless dusty documents. Distracted from his family woes by this intriguing find, Bruce is caught off guard by an impromptu visit from his son, who is struggling to define his sexual orientation.
As anticipated, no melodrama is as simple as it first appears. His efforts to accumulate accurate information and the interviewing of shifty Hollywood folk gives Bruce only a partial vision of the truth. Left with more questions than answers, he begins to find the motivation he has lacked for the past decade of his life to live to the fullest.
Blur's plot is puzzling at best. One might say tactfully that Berry has an intriguing and unique assembly of storylines, but for this reader they come together too awkwardly and leave her scratching her head. The drawing of Bruce's long-lost family into his solipsistic world seems far-fetched and irrelevant to the rest of the novel. Despite the praise for "Berry's fine writing," adorning the book's exterior, Blur at times exhibits a complete absence of writing style, with segments seemingly written for a Grade 1 reading level.
Blur is a novel you desperately want to be amused by, but aren't. With haphazard stories assembled in a rickety fashion and repugnant characters dished out with a disappointing writing style, this novel falls far short of what is promised.