“A Star is Bored” by Byron Lane— The Assistant

Lane, Byron. “A Star Is Bored: A Novel’, Henry Holt, 2020.

The Assistant

Amos Lassen

Byron Lane’s “A Star id Bored” is influenced by the author’s time assisting the late movie star, Carrie Fisher. We meet Charlie Besson as he prepares for a job interview and he is quite tense. He idles his car just as he has idled his life but his car is outside the Hollywood mansion of Kathi Kannon, star of stage and screen. Unfortunately, Kathi is on “People” magazine’s Worst Dressed list. She’s an actress who needs assistance. Charlie is adrift and needs a lifeline. Kathi is an icon, a bestselling author, and an award-winning movie star who is most famous for her role as Priestess Talara in a blockbuster sci-fi film. She’s also known as outrageous as Charlie quickly finds out when he gets the job.

Charlie begins three years filled with late-night shopping sprees, last-minute trips to see the aurora borealis, and a welcome to the famous job of personal assistant. Kathi who is just supposed to be his boss is so much and the two becomes friends. Charlie realizes that he is jut on the sidelines and that his chances of becoming more than that are very slim.

While this is fiction, I don’t doubt that some of what we read is based on actual experiences making it all the more fun. While he was growing up Charlie idolized Kathi and now has the chance to work for her since his job as a TV news writer on the graveyard shift is getting him nowhere. He has had no personal life because he’s always sleeping when everyone else is living and having fun He is filled with anxiety and suffers from low self-esteem. With Kathi, he begins to heal and grow as a person and as a result of their friendship. They both have many flaws and virtues making for a strange relationship that is both tender and very funny.

We see the “ridiculous, bizarre and oft-magical world of Hollywood” through the ideas of a personal assistant and his boss. There is a lot of dish and wit as we explore
Kathi’s mostly acerbic personality and her attachment to Charlie. This is also a love story which I did not expect. “The pitch-perfect absurdity and sharp heartbreak of this story come to life so vividly that the last page left me aching. Completely outrageous and positively lovely.”
The book is a reflection of today’s obsessionwith celebrity culture. Here is Los Angeles and the people who live there, who chase dreams. We sense that not all is well with Kathi whose story is about  the mutual love that existed between her and Charlie.  We read of love, loss, acceptance, and overcoming adversity. It is really a fun read.

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