Leah Stewart’s Latest Novel is a Study of Actors and Kidnapping

Photograph by Jason Sheldon

Photograph by Jason Sheldon

One extremely indelicate, published quote about his relationship leads actor Charlie Outlaw into a self-imposed island exile that turns into a kidnapping in What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw (Putnam). The plot could have easily turned to cheap suspense, but Leah Stewart ably—and wryly—avoids such pitfalls, and creates empathetic characters out of actors. She primarily accomplishes this through the narrative voice—one we most liken (and lovingly so) to that of Arrested Development. She had more literary inspiration: “I read a great deal of 18th-century fiction, which has this very present narrative voice—often satirical, rolling its eyes at the characters, playful, digressive,” Stewart says. It allows the internal and external to blend in an almost democratic way. And makes the whole thing like people-watching, but better, because you can see inside their minds, too.

 

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