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Tell-All

Cover of Tell-All

Tell-All

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The hyperactive love child of Page Six and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? caught in a tawdry love triangle with The Fan. Even Kitty Kelly will blush.

Soaked, nay, marinated in the world of vintage Hollywood, Tell-All is a Sunset Boulevard--inflected homage to Old Hollywood when Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ruled the roost; a veritable Tourette's syndrome of rat-tat-tat name-dropping, from the A-list to the Z-list; and a merciless send-up of Lillian Hellman's habit of butchering the truth that will have Mary McCarthy cheering from the beyond.

Our Thelma Ritter--ish narrator is Hazie Coogan, who for decades has tended to the outsized needs of Katherine "Miss Kathie" Kenton--veteran of multiple marriages, career comebacks, and cosmetic surgeries. But danger arrives with gentleman caller Webster Carlton Westward III, who worms his way into Miss Kathie's heart (and boudoir). Hazie discovers that this bounder has already written a celebrity tell-all memoir foretelling Miss Kathie's death in a forthcoming Lillian Hellman--penned musical extravaganza; as the body count mounts, Hazie must execute a plan to save Katherine Kenton for her fans--and for posterity.

Tell-All is funny, subversive, and fascinatingly clever. It's wild, it's wicked, it's bold-faced--it's vintage Chuck.

BONUS: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Chuck Palahniuk's Doomed.

The hyperactive love child of Page Six and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? caught in a tawdry love triangle with The Fan. Even Kitty Kelly will blush.

Soaked, nay, marinated in the world of vintage Hollywood, Tell-All is a Sunset Boulevard--inflected homage to Old Hollywood when Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ruled the roost; a veritable Tourette's syndrome of rat-tat-tat name-dropping, from the A-list to the Z-list; and a merciless send-up of Lillian Hellman's habit of butchering the truth that will have Mary McCarthy cheering from the beyond.

Our Thelma Ritter--ish narrator is Hazie Coogan, who for decades has tended to the outsized needs of Katherine "Miss Kathie" Kenton--veteran of multiple marriages, career comebacks, and cosmetic surgeries. But danger arrives with gentleman caller Webster Carlton Westward III, who worms his way into Miss Kathie's heart (and boudoir). Hazie discovers that this bounder has already written a celebrity tell-all memoir foretelling Miss Kathie's death in a forthcoming Lillian Hellman--penned musical extravaganza; as the body count mounts, Hazie must execute a plan to save Katherine Kenton for her fans--and for posterity.

Tell-All is funny, subversive, and fascinatingly clever. It's wild, it's wicked, it's bold-faced--it's vintage Chuck.

BONUS: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Chuck Palahniuk's Doomed.

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Act one, scene one opens with Lillian Hellman clawing her way, stumbling and scrambling, through the thorny nighttime underbrush of some German schwarzwald, a Jewish baby clamped to each of her tits, another brood of infants clinging to her back. Lilly clambers her way, struggling against the brambles that snag the gold embroidery of her Balenciaga lounging pajamas, the black velvet clutched by hordes of doomed cherubs she's racing to deliver from the ovens of some Nazi death camp. More innocent toddlers, lashed to each of Lillian's muscular thighs. Helpless Jewish, Gypsy and homosexual babies. Nazi gestapo bullets spit past her in the darkness, shredding the forest foliage, the smell of gunpowder and pine needles. The heady aroma of her Chanel No. 5. Bullets and hand grenades just whiz past Miss Hellman's perfectly coiffed Hattie Carnegie chignon, so close the ammunition shatters her Cartier chandelier earrings into rainbow explosions of priceless diamonds. Ruby and emerald shrapnel blasts into the flawless skin of her perfect, pale cheeks. . . . From this action sequence, we dissolve to:

    Reveal: the interior of a stately Sutton Place mansion. It's some Billie Burke place decorated by Billy Haines, where formally dressed guests line a long table within a candlelit, wood-paneled dining room. Liveried footmen stand along the walls. Miss Hellman is seated near the head of this very large dinner party, actually describing the frantic escape scene we've just witnessed. In a slow panning shot, the engraved place cards denoting each guest read like a veritable Who's Who. Easily half of twentieth-century history sits at this table: Prince Nicholas of Romania, Pablo Picasso, Cordell Hull and Josef von Sternberg. The attendant celebrities seem to stretch from Samuel Beckett to Gene Autry to Marjorie Main to the faraway horizon.

    Lillian stops speaking long enough to draw one long drag on her cigarette. Then to blow the smoke over Pola Negri and Adolph Zukor before she says, "It's at that heart-stopping moment I wished I'd just told Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 'No, thank you.' " Lilly taps cigarette ash onto her bread plate, shaking her head, saying, "No secret missions for this girl."

    While the footmen pour wine and clear the sorbet dishes, Lillian's hands swim through the air, her cigarette trailing smoke, her fingernails clawing at invisible forest vines, climbing sheer rock cliff faces, her high heels blazing a muddy trail toward freedom, her strength never yielding under the burden of those tiny Jewish and homosexual urchins.

    Every eye, fixed, from the head of the table to the foot, stares at Lilly. Every hand crosses two fingers beneath the damask napkin laid in every lap, while every guest mouths a silent prayer that Miss Hellman will swallow her Chicken Prince Anatole Demidoff without chewing, then suffocate, writhing and choking on the dining room carpet.

    Almost every eye. The exceptions being one pair of violet eyes . . . one pair of brown eyes . . . and of course my own weary eyes.

    The possibility of dying before Lillian Hellman has become the tangible fear of this entire generation. Dying and becoming merely fodder for Lilly's mouth. A person's entire life and reputation reduced to some golem, a Frankenstein's monster Miss Hellman can reanimate and manipulate to do her bidding.

    Beyond her first few words, Lillian's talk becomes one of those jungle sound tracks one hears looping in the background of every Tarzan...

About the Author-
  • CHUCK PALAHNIUK's bestselling books are Pygmy, Snuff, Rant, Haunted, Lullaby, Fight Club, Diary, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke. He is also the author of a nonfiction profile, Portland Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journeys series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Reviews-
  • Edmonton Journal

    "America's most famous writer of transgressive fiction . . . Chuck Palahniuk has a habit noticing things in the margins that the rest of us might overlook. . . . A dark, funny tale of a vintage Hollywood. . . . Dark, occasionally violent and always irreverent, the book suggests that Hollywood in the golden days was just as shallow, self-obsessed and inaneas it is today."

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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