Published by Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: February 12th 2013
Christine Sneed’s Little Known Facts stars Renn Ivins, a mega-watt Hollywood star. As he enters his early fifties he’s had two wives, has two adult children, more acting awards than he can count, money to spare, directing and screenwriting credits, and is revered around the world by men and women alike. He’s also plagued with the burdens of this type of life: fidelity and aging, neither of which it seems he can control. But Little Known Facts is not just about Renn or even told solely from his point of view. It is a collection of chapters written from the perspective of the people who orbit Renn’s sun and what such an orbit is like.
For his son, Will, life is not as great as one might expect of movie star spawn. Yes, he’s inherited some of his father’s good looks, women sleep with him because he’s a movie star’s son, and his father’s success has ensured that he need never worry about money or getting a job. Problems that don’t really sound like problems but have managed to render Will an insecure, defensive dilettante. When Renn steps in to help Will by giving him a job on his latest movie, things get twisted as Will falls in love with Renn’s co-star, Elise Connor, a 20-something actress whom Renn is in the process of wooing himself, despite the fact that she is younger than his daughter. Like any good alpha male, Renn asserts his dominance and chases his son the interloper away from the herd. Will is left to return home, lick his wounds and try to figure out a life.
His sister, Anna, with the same set of ‘problems’ has managed to fly through med school and is on her way to becoming a family practice physician. Their mother, after a negative destructive phase following the divorce, has settled back into her own life. Both women speak, as does Elise, who not only embarks on a relationship with Renn but to whom he proposes, and Miranda, wife number two who processes the divorce by writing a tell-all. Each woman comes at Renn from a different angle but no matter their position in his life they do not seem to be as undermined or undone by their relationship with him, as is Will.
Little Known Facts is likely to be classified as popular fiction because it deals with Hollywood so there is sex, scandal, a fast pace, and a plot that could be adapted to screenplay without too much effort. However, it’s not just that. Sneed imbues each character with a sense of self-awareness that keeps them from being caricatures. Before they can be labeled ‘spoiled rich man’s son’ or ‘bitter ex’ they expose themselves, nullifying the label by acknowledging it and then some. Even Renn, when we do interact with him, seems keenly aware of his favored status and when not giving into it, is rueful about his actions. Not enough to stop, but in even considering what he’s doing, Sneed adds an element of humanity and depth that goes beyond pop culture fiction and keeps the novel from reading like a tabloid.