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In 1928 a photograph was taken of Anna May Wong Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl at a party at Weimar Berlin Amanda Lee Koe uses this photograph as the basis for her debut novel Delayed Rays of a Star In the novel we follow the Once Upon a Christmas lives of these three women over the course of the 20th century I have read Dietrich s biography and Riefenstahl s autobiography and never have I read a novel that uses real people so authentically Each character main to minor glows It is a book about sexism art racism and conseuences Our smallest actionsead to The Daddy Secret large outcomes when we cannot yet know it Amanda Lee Koe is a master storyteller This is her epic Everything became a fantastic joke if you could afford to hang aroundong enough for the punchline Listening to the Smith s strangeways here we come in honor of my two favorite characters Ibrahim and B b From netgalley for an honest review Before reviewing Amanda Lee Koe s actual writing it must be noted that the Doubleday hardcover edition of Delayed Rays Of A Star is physically a work of art in bookmaking The dust jacket features some beautiful design work by a Michael J Windsor that perfectly incorporates design aesthetics of the classical Hollywood era and contemporary typography The interior of the book also features the same careful attention to aesthetic detail from numbering Anna May Wong s chapters with Chinese Drop Dead Gorgeous (Harlequin Blaze, letters to choosing appropriate Hollywood esue fonts to even designing small individualized emblems that serve sort of as a historatied initial to signify and designate each of the three main character s chapters The effort put into assembling the physical copy of this novel is marvelous and serves as an excellent reminder that as much as I appreciate the convenience of e readers there s nothingike holding a physically beautiful bookUnfortunately I wasn t at first nearly as enthralled by Amanda Lee Koe s actual writing The pitch for Delayed Rays of A Star s plot reads Claiming the Cowboys Heart (Cowboys of Eden Valley, like something I would absolutelyove considering I have a degree in Film Studies and am an Taiwanese American A historical fiction novel written by an Asian author about two classic Hollywood actresses one of whom is Chinese and has to struggle against racism and a famously controversial film director sounded A Mothers Wish (Wed In The West, like everything I wanted in book unfortunately I nearly gave up on Delayed Rays of A Star after the first few chapters One immediate reason is that there simply wasn t enough of the narrative actually concerned about film or film history until Leni Riefenstahl s first chapter After that the narrative picked up and began actually delving into interesting historical tidbits of film history surrounded its three protagonists instead of over detailing Marlene Dietrich s sexual exploitsAnother reason is a common problem with most novels that deal with multiple main protagonists It is easy to be interested in one protagonists over the others In the case of Delayed Rays of A Star I struggled through the first two Marlene Dietrich chapters If it weren t for the story of the Chinese immigrant housemaid character intertwined into the narrative I would have dropped the book before reaching Anna May Wong s first chapter As a side note Amanda Lee Koe s treatment of the issue of human trafficking in Dietrich s chapters was oddly subdued which also slightly bothered me The chapters were well written and writing from the perspective of an aged Dietrich was a great choice but unnecessary and misplaced sex scenesittered her early chapters and the Hot Lawyers (Grace Poole latter chapters were just a bit slow It s not even that the sex scene weren t well written they just felt misplaced Perhaps I just disliked Koe s depiction of Dietrich considering that Koe has actually been complimented on her ability to write sex scenes well in an interview that she gave where she actually speaks of how Marlene Dietrich s sexuality brought her freedom in expressing and writing of her own sexuality Koe s speaking in that article says Sex in fiction is a powerfuliminal space because of the fact that we can simultaneously convey the interiority of characters while they are in a state of physical ecstasy How cool would it be it during sex you could have a USB cable into your partner s brain see what someone is seeing when they reach a point at which thought is impossible and sensation is heightened A writer should make sparing but full use of this medium specific privilege that exists only on the page films don t afford the same interiority In the case of Delayed Rays of A Star Koe has definitely made full use of the medium specific privilege of writing visceral sex scenes but her own advice on the use of it sparingly arguably hasn t been heeded Dietrich s sexual exploits are well recorded in the annals of film history but what we end up with in Delayed Rays of A Star is a caricature instead of a fully developed character and ultimately a missed opportunity to explore deeper into the person of Marlene Dietrich The irony of course is that just as Hollywood typecast Dietrich as a femme fatale Amanda Lee Koe with Dietrich reduced her to being defined by the sole attributes of being a sexual predator megalomaniac and a nymphomaniac Thankfully Koe does better with Anna May Wong s character and significantly better with Leni RiefenstahlAll of Anna May Wong s chapters and Leni Riefenstahl s chapters for me personally were considerably better and interesting then the Marlene Dietrich s chapters Riefenstahl s chapters read in the way I expected the whole novel to read and were the highlight of the novel despite their perhaps revisionist history The Riefenstahl chapters were a perfect mix of film history technical film elements the struggles of being a female director the complexities of filmmaking in Nazi Germany and etc Her chapters made the novel a worthwhile read and I m glad I stuck with the novel for her chapters especially her final first person chapter the only first person chapter in the whole book With that all said Delayed Rays of A Star is an impressive debut and demonstrates that Amanda Lee Koe clearly has a firm grasp on the technical aspects of writing and storytelling necessary to be an incredible author She has also definitely done her research and knows her film history I was surprised even to see one of my favorite directors Hou Hsiao Hsien get a nod in the novel for his film Daughter Of The Nile She is most definitely an author to watch and I will definitely keep an eye out for her future works Delayed Rays of Star missed the mark a Miranda little bit at the beginning but ultimately it grew to be an interesting worthwhile read that I m glad I stuck with until the endI debated between giving this a 3 or a 4 for aong time I ultimately settled on a 3 but really it s a 35 and would be a 4 for another readerI received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway and thank Doubleday for the advanced copy this is a modern masterpiece pls run not walk to get your copy it is about three film icons dietrich wong and Marry Me, Baby liefenstahl but I think the true gems in this book are the unknown stories of the supporting cast whoseives are marked by the three stars the prose is dense but never clunky This is an intricate And Intelligent Novel Definitely intelligent novel definitely best one I ve read this year Five stars for the impressive execution of this ambitious epic novel and for the excellent beautiful writing But I docked a star based on my personal reading experience it s uite a heavy and dense read such that sometimes I had trouble getting back into the story after putting it down for a while I also don t really ike stories that remove uotation marks from the dialogue because it can get hard to differentiate dialogue from normal narration and I just don t get the get hard to differentiate dialogue from normal narration and I just don t get the Is it just a fancy and uirky stylistic choiceThe novel opens in the 1920s at a party in Berlin where three ac. A dazzling novel following the ives of three groundbreaking women Marlene Dietrich Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl cinema Willingly Bedded, Forcibly Wedded legends whoit up the twentieth centuryAt a chance encounter at a Berlin soirée in 1928 the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captures three very different women together in one frame up and coming German actress Marlene Dietrich who would wend her way into Hollywood as one of its asting icons; Anna May Wong the world's first Chinese American star playing for bit parts while dreaming of breaking away from her fat.

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Delayed Rays of a StarHat started the war are safely sitting at home Both characters are written in a way that will break your heart without being saccharineThe ambiguous novel takes on many subjectsThere is sexuality Marlene Dietrich s public image included openly defying sexual norms She was known for her androgynous dressing fashion sense Dietrich was the Hollywood egend who made being ueer acceptable even downright sexy Men and women both drooled over her and she famously bedded both How she got away with this in that period of time is uite a feat Perhaps it was her narcissist personality traits that helped her pull it off Still while America adored her Germany was angry and disowned her Marlene remained Marlene until the end of her Christmas Countdown (Lost-Inc., life The author writes a scene of her maid holding her nose while cleaning an antiue Limoges pitcher the 88 year old uses as a bedpan In her famous throaty voice she hollers at the maid Everyone should be glad I can still pee For her funeral she reuested that red and white carnations be distributed to those who attended A red carnation would be handed to those who slept with Dietrich and a white one to those who didn t She fantasized fistfights over You slept with her and I didn t Theseaugh out Clay Yeagers Redemption (Trinity Street West, loud moments are written to perfection This reviewer googled an interview with Marlene s daughter andearned that this was indeed her mother s funeral wish Her mom would have been very disappointed if she knew it wasn t carried outThere is racism Despite being born in California and the daughter of parents who were themselves born here Wong was only offered badevil woman Chinese character roles She was never a Dark Desires lead character The Chinese were as furious with her as the Germans were of Dietrich A moving scene in the book happens when she is in China for a publicity tour Wong is criticized by a film critic for taking stereotypical roles She tries to explain that as a non white in Americaife can be hard She fiercely fought for different roles She desperately wanted the The Corporate Raiders Revenge (Suite Secrets, lead role in the film The Good Earth The movie takes place in turn of the century China She thought she had it She was deep into preparation giving ideas and costume suggestions when she received a phone call informing her that the role went to a white actress The reason She was too ChineseThere is sexism Leni Riefenstahl was an accomplished filmmaker one of the first of female filmmakers of her generation Still she is easy not toike She received financial support from Hitler but after the fall of the Nazi regime claimed no knowledge of the Holocaust Koe paints her as willfully unknowing Leni is written in a way that one can almost understand where she is coming from Since she was a woman no one was willing to take her seriously as a director and back her films She took money where she could and concentrated on her art Like Anna May she was forced to take whatever she got in order to perform In 1993 there was a documentary made about her The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl Maybe this is why she is the only one of the three who gets an entire section in her own voiceKoe s debut novel shows that she is a master storyteller Clearly her talent comes from being a fellow of the International Writing Program of Iowa and a fiction editor of Esuire Singapore as well as the editor of the National Museum of Singapore s film journal Delayed will appeal to a wide variety of readers Fans of historical fiction centering on women film buffs gossipy stories and those who enjoy WWII political novels that feel Course of Action like nonfiction in other words for fans of all genresFind all my book reviews at An amazing read It was wonderful uite heavy for me A historical and biographical fiction Touches on the inner workings of movie making and the mixing of reality and fantasy There were many themes Iiked the fight for control the changing relationships and the way each character saw each other I had difficult time getting through this book because it kind of heavy to me I just had to put it down for days but I finished it anyway BravoThe plot was okay and neat Easy to follow I don t know about the characters before it s just feels so good to know each
One Of Them Throughout 
of them throughout book Thank you Pansing for sending me a copy of Delayed Rays of a Star in return for an honest review This book is available at all good bookstores Delayed Rays of a Star begins and ends with a photograph of three actresses at a party in Berlin in 1928 Marlene Dietrich Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl Ambitious in its scope and its attempt to render these famous personalities of the early 20th century into relatable and flawed humans the novel moves back and forth between these three characters as they each make their marks as independent women in a male dominated film industry and also wrestle with their respective demons Dietrich being Christmas Masquerades labeled a traitor for renouncing her German citizenship to go to Hollywood during WWII Wong s predicament of being offered only roles that were stereotypes of Asian women yet also being deemed too Chinese to play a Chinese when auditioning for the one Hollywood film with an Asianead Riefenstahl s close relationship with the Nazis Skylars Outlaw leading to attacks on her and her work after the war I confess I did not know about any of them before reading the book but was inspired to watch Shanghai Express after finishing it and appreciated the scenes that Koe soovingly describes as well as the butterfly Blades Lady lighting that made Marleneook Learning Yii Testing like she d been dusted in gold foil Ioved Koe s earlier collection Ministry of Moral Panic for its inventive twists on the people of the Singaporean heartland and the minor characters here showcase her skill B b a Chinese immigrant who serves as Dietrich s housekeeper as she ives out her ast years Ibrahim a poetry oving Turkish German who forms a bond with B b and Hans Haas the best boy on Riefenstahl s crew for Tiefland who struggles with finding his own voice The cast becomes a ittle crowded with the added cameos of Walter Benjamin JFK Marlon Brando and Hitler among others I felt that the arge ensemble of characters prevented me from deeply identifying with any one of them too closely However each character and the events they feature in are carefully crafted and seuenced in a complex web of space and time that illustrates the conflicting ideas and tensions each individual faces juxtaposed against the march of historyIf there is one common thread that runs through the book it is how we construct and edit the images and identities that we choose to see and that are projected to the world As Anna May says in response to a Chinese critic An actress authenticity is not in world As Anna May says in response to a Chinese critic An actress authenticity is not in ife it is in her performance This is most memorable in how Leni s devotion to her artistic vision while filming Tiefland is also a way of survival by ignoring the atrocities of the Nazi death camps nearby she could not show that troubled face to the crewif one person broke down to ask why they were making an alpine movie about a shepherd and a dancer when the world around them had gone mad everything would turn to dust they would all be back in the city ueueing for rations and cowering in bunkers That must not happen Koe paints everyone in believable shades of grey such that a reader could empathise with even Riefenstahl who directed two of the most effective Nazi propaganda films ever madeThe title of the book is taken from a passage from Barthes Camera Lucida the photograph of the missing being as Sontag says will touch me The Philosophical Journey like the delayed rays of a star Justike how the characters calibrate their to transcend their realities and regain their agency so does revise and embellish history shaping the rays of these bygone Asset Protection luminaries of film so that they continue to ask uestions that still resonate today I can t believe how much Ioved this book. Econdary players a Chinese immigrant housemaid a German soldier on Enzymes Enzyme Therapy leave from North Africa a pompous Hollywood director whose voices and viewpoints reveal theegacy each woman Blindsided left in her own time as well as in ours     Amanda Lee Koe's playful wry prose guides the reader dexterously around murky uestions of ego persona complicity desire and difference Intimate and raw DELAYED RAYS OF A STAR is a visceral depiction of womanhood its particular hungers its calculations and its eventual betrayals and announces a bold newiterary voice. Tresses Anna May Wong Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl met for the first time and pose for a photograph together Yup the novel is a historical fiction with real ife famous people as its characters There s even the two photographs of the three women taken at the party inserted into the book The reader then follows the three women s On the Run lives in the subseuent decades as they advance their acting and also for Leni directing careers against the chaotic rise and fall of the Nazi regime The story is divided into three major segments which are individually split up into three mini segments each taking turns to focus on one of the women Within each mini segment are a number of chapters that really feelike short stories because of the way they jump to whole new situations and often even a different character as the chapter s focus There are The Price Of Blood (Phil Broker, lots of side characters such as Marlene s Chinese maid and theighting staff on Leni s film production team and they are vividly developed too I actually think some of the most memorable chapters come from the side charactersAnna May Marlene and Leni turn into strong memorable characters too I knew pretty much nothing about all of them I Russian Winter ll admit it I d never even heard of Marlene and Leni before this novel so getting to know theirives and Meg and the Mystery in Williamsburg (Meg Duncan, legacy was fascinating to me I restrained myself from googling them so I can get to know them from this novel but after finishing it I did google them and I m intrigued to see how closely the novel follows their realives However I was expecting connections between the three of them and their stories but only Anna May and Marlene were really in each other s ives after they met at the party So it felt disjointed reading the three women s chapters together They shared a common socio political context and themes about art being a female artist and fame but still I had to re orientate myself a bit when I move between the mini segmentsLeni s chapters were also the heaviest and the tone was uite different from Anna May s and Marlene s although Anna May s chapters also dealt with racism in early 20th century America and the struggle to find home for the Asian American diaspora Leni s chapters are very heavy because they go uite deep into the political climate of Nazi Germany with Hitler and Joseph Goebbels both making appearances and even getting dialogue Leni was also a controversial director of Nazi propaganda films and this novel explores how aware and intentional she was in creating Nazi propaganda raising uestions about whether we can and should separate art from politics and art from the artist It s very bold of the author to tackle such controversial and complex issues in real history approaching them from different perspectives and she has the skill and is knowledgeable about them to do so with sensitivity Even though the writing is a bit dense I was very engaged in the story most of the time and I really cared and felt for the charactersAmanda Lee Koe is definitely one of my favourite Singapore authors now along with Balli Kaur Jaswal I d only ever read one of her short stories from her award winning collection Ministry of Moral Panic but I could tell her writing is really good and this her first novel shows it even She s so smart I d feel intimidated if I ever meet her in real ifeThank you to Pansing for sending me copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review Men would mouth off without thinking twice about who they were crossing Never having to fight for anything made them complacent and impulsiveI have been trying to articulate why I ove this book for the past 5 months now and I don t think I still can do it Because Delayed Rays Of A Star is one of those one of a kind beautifully written books that shatter every standard you ve set for a book to be good and makes you go oh wow I ove this in a way Kawaii Manga like I ve neveroved any other bookSo what is Delayed Rays Of A Star about Delayed Rays Of A Star is part historical fiction and part biographical narrative of 3 well known women during the world war 2 era namely Marlene Dietrich actress diva and femme fatale one of the highest paid Hollywood actre Amanda Lee Koe s inspiration for this ambitious novel was a single photograph taken by famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt at a party in Berlin in 1928 The picture is of filmmakeractress Leni Riefenstahl Hollywood actress Anna May Wong and Marlene Dietrich Koe takes us to this party and uses that as her jumping off point for stories that read ike memoirs from each woman s point of viewTo get into the head of each woman is fascinating Anna May Wong growing up in Los angeles was enthralled with the movies while she was enthralled with the movies While she a successful actress Hollywood cast her in villain roles while sympathetic Asian characters were played by Caucasians in whiteface Wong had to deal with that as well as scathing reviews from critics in her parents native ChinaDietrich s story is focused two bookends of her ife her early days working with Josef von Sternberg and having an affair with Wong and the The Accursed last years of herife when she was bedridden and reclusive in a Paris flat I don t know if there s any factual basis for the affair Dietrich is portrayed as a women who yearned for connection but couldn t et down her barriers enough to form a real relationship with anyoneRiefenstahl is portrayed both in her filmmaking years in Germany s Third Reich and much ater in ife ooking back and defending herself against charges of collaboration with the Nazi regime Koe does a terrific job getting inside the head of the ambitious and self absorbed Riefenstahl who has an excuse or justification for everything She never has to admit her culpability even to herselfSome of the most affecting scenes involve side characters whom Koe introduces into the story There is the World War I veteran working as a gaffer on one of Riefenstahl s who is haunted by his wartime memories and stricken by Riefenstahl s use of Roma from a nearby Nazi concentration camp as film extras Then there is Dietrich s refugee Chinese house cleaner B b who develops a relationship with a young Turkish German admirer of Dietrich sIt s hard to describe this novel It has a certain dreamlike uality but not because it feels Swing Sideways like a dream It s as if you have all the time in the world to sit with these women as they tell you the stories of theirives and you know that because they are human there will be truth The Secret of the Great Pyramid lies happiness sadness and the bittersweetness of memory Genre Historical FictionPublisher Doubleday BooksPublication Date July 9 2019Spanning the 1920s to 2003 this sprawling novel is expertly woven with characters that are powerfully alive Koe s novel was inspired by a 1928 photograph taken in Berlin of then up and coming realife actresses Marlene Dietrich Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl at a party in Berlin For those who don t know these film icons Marlene Dietrich was a gender bending German actress who was one of the highest paid Hollywood stars in her day Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American actress to achieve international acclaim Leni Riefenstahl was an actress turned director of Nazi propaganda films as well as nonpolitical filmsThere are acclaim Leni Riefenstahl was an actress turned director of Nazi propaganda films as well as nonpolitical filmsThere are moving secondary characters in the novel There is a Chinese maid who was a onetime sex trafficked prostitute She now takes care of an old and difficult reclusive woman who happens to be Marlene Dietrich And there is a gay German soldier who had worked in films before the war He was recruited off the battlefield to be a film crew member with Riefenstahl He is mourning the Dancing with Mr. Darcy lover he watched die in battle Through his character one gets glimpses of the average young German soldier s thoughts during the war Not at all different than from those they were fighting Please Godet me Lesca live through this warWhy am I crawling in the mud when the bigwigs Her's modestaundry; and Leni Riefenstahl whose work as a director would first make her famous then infamous     From this curious point of intersection DELAYED RAYS OF A STAR Sharpes Trafalgar letsoose the trajectories of these women's Punished lives From Weimar Berlin to LA's Chinatown from a seaside resort in East Germany to auxury apartment on the Champs Elysées the different settings they inhabit are as richly textured as the roles they play siren muse predator or His To Protect lover each one a carefully calibrated performance And in the orbit of each starive
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