Cover image for I'll let you go : a novel
Title:
I'll let you go : a novel
Author:
Wagner, Bruce, 1954-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Villard, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xiv, 549 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Genre:
ISBN:
9780375500022
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"[Wagner] slices open the self-satisfied bosom of Los Angeles yet again in his third novel, a sprawling family saga that trades the usual mush-mouthed sentimentalities for cascading shards of knife-edged vignettes. A masterful, modern-day fantasy of millionaires and madmen, fathers and sons, reality and dreams."
--Kirkus Reviews

Bruce Wagner's I'm Losing You was hailed as "outrageous -- dead-on in every way" by Janet Maslin in The New York Times. New York magazine's Walter Kirn called it "the year's best book." And John Updike, in The New Yorker , wrote that Bruce Wagner "writes like a wizard." In I'll Let You Go , Wagner offers a stunning novel that surpasses anything he's done before.

Twelve-year-old Toulouse "Tull" Trotter lives on his grandfather's vast Bel-Air parkland estate with his mother, the beautiful, drug-addicted Katrina, a landscape artist who specializes in topiary laby-rinths. He spends most of his time with his young cousins Lucy, the girl detective, and Edward, a prodigy undaunted by the disfiguring effects of Apert Syndrome. One day, an impulsive revelation from Lucy sets in motion a chain of events that changes Tull -- and the Trotter family -- forever.

Though the story unfolds in contemporary Los Angeles, the reader hears echoes of Proust and 1,001 Nights as Toulouse seeks his lost father, a woman finds her lost love, and a family of unimaginable wealth learns that its fate is tied to those of the orphan Amaryllis (who officially aspires to be a saint) and her protector, a courtly giant of a homeless schizophrenic -- both of them on the run from the law. Along a path shaded by murder and mysticism, we meet such unforgettable characters as Fitzsimmons, a deranged former social worker; the enterprising Monasterio family of servants (Candelaria, Epitacio, and Eulogio); "Someone-Help-Me", a streetwise devil; and Pullman, a seemingly ageless Great Dane.

Complexly wrought, deeply moving, and scathingly ironic, I'll Let You Go dazzles the reader with the unique blend of gorgeous prose, acerbic wit, and deep emotion that are the specific province of Bruce Wagner.


Author Notes

The author of the novels FORCE Majeure and I'M LOSING YOU and creator of televisions critically acclaimed "Wild Palms." He writes films and has directed four volumes of Carlos Casteneda's "Tensegrity" series. He wrote and directed the film adaptatiion of I'M LOSING YOU, which was released by Lion's Gate Films in 1999. He lives in Los Angeles.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Draped in Hermes scarves and munching on the rarest of truffles, the Trotter family is the epitome of culture and Beverly Hills dysfunction. Louis Trotter, the family patriarch, is spending a good deal of time commissioning mausoleum models and prowling cemeteries in preparation for the hereafter, and his wife, Bluey, drifts back from dementia only long enough to eat her favorite pomegranate pastries. Their daughter, Katrina, designs garden mazes when she's not in the drug-induced stupor that helps her cope with the labyrinth of secrets she keeps from her son, but Tull is an intuitive boy who unwittingly begins to stumble upon information that will reveal a long-held family secret. Wagner revels in the opulent lifestyles of his eccentric cast of characters, and true to his voyeuristic approach, he requests the reader's indulgence in allowing him this luxurious revelry. This novel is an industrious endeavor, which could have been shortened about 100 pages, but there are so many interesting characters dynamically incorporated into its delightfully twisted plot, it's well worth the time. --Elsa Gaztambide


Publisher's Weekly Review

In previous novels, Wagner (I'm Losing You; Force Majeure) has made a reputation as a sharp-eyed registrar of Beverly Hills mores. His new novel attempts an Angelino Bleak House, describing the gulf that yawns between the ungodly rich and the ungainly poor. On his wedding night, eccentric Hollywood agent Marcus Wiener deserts his heiress bride, Katrina "Trinnie" Trotter, and apparently disappears from the face of the earth. Trinnie tells her son, Toulouse, his father is dead, but when Toulouse is 13 he finds out that isn't true. Unsurprisingly, the news comes from his nosy cousin, Lucy, who is digging around in family secrets attempting to write a detective novel. Although Toulouse and his cousins, Lucy and Edward, are children, they have the precocious manners of adults in contrast to their wealthy parents, who exhibit the immaturity of teenagers. Meanwhile, in a shack under a freeway overpass, Will'm, a large, crazy vagrant, is trying to protect 11-year-old Amaryllis, whose crack-smoking, abusive mother has been murdered. The mystery of Wiener's disappearance and the mystery of the murder of Amaryllis's mother connect the divergent worlds of ad hoc shacks and Bel-Air mansions. This time around, Wagner's observations of L.A.'s filthy rich are curiously torpid, probing little beyond their penchant for purchasing esoteric designer labels. He's better at trawling the nightmarish shelters and abandoned buildings of the street poor. In the end, Wagner's novel is less Dickens than a knockoff of Tom Wolfe and second-rate Wolfe at that but the fustian language and over-the-top melodrama could translate well to the silver screen. 6-city author tour. (Jan. 9) Forecast: L.A. readers will best appreciate this fiercely L.A.-centric novel, but the allure of the City of Angels and Wagner's ability to charm reviewers John Updike is his most famous champion should move a significant number of copies country-wide. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Screenwriter Wagner's third Hollywood novel, following Force Majeure and I'm Losing You, is a California version of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities. A homeless schizophrenic who believes that he is the Victorian writer/designer William Morris befriends an orphan named Amaryllis in the crime-ridden Rampart section of Los Angeles. "William Morris" turns out to be Marcus Weiner, a former William Morris Agency employee who was once married to the fabulously wealthy Katrina Trotter of Bel Air. In the first of many coincidences, Amaryllis meets Katrina's teenage son Toulouse on a downtown movie set. Toulouse later learns that Amaryllis has been "rescued" by a social worker, and he vows to save her from the horrors of the child-welfare system. The entire Trotter clan gets involved, and Katrina eventually reunites with her long-lost husband. This work brings a much-needed narrative structure to the savage wit showcased in Wagner's previous books. The name-dropping gets out of hand, and it is often difficult to tell whether Wagner is ridiculing or celebrating the rich, but his indictment of foster care is unambiguous and devastating. A tour de force that is nevertheless recommended mainly for California collections. Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 Born Toulouse The boy took long walks in the countryfied Bel-Air hills with Pullman, the stately Dane--ears like membranous tepees, one eye blue, the other a forlorn and bottomless brown, jowls pinkening toward nose, arctic-white coat mottled by "torn" patches characteristic of the harlequin breed, the whole length of him an inkspot archipelago--even though the animal didn't seem particularly fond of such locomotion. Great Danes were majestic that way. They could take their jaunt or leave it. When people learned what each was named, they usually said the two had it wrong--better the noble, gigantine champion to bear the burden of whimsy (Best of Breed to Trotter's T. Lautrec) while his master coupled to Pullman, steady, scholar'd, sleeping car Pullman, nostalgically trestle-trundling under bald hills and starstruck sky, velour shadow of midnight passengers murmuring within. Not that "Pullman" fit so well for the boy, though it might: twelve-year-old Toulouse was thin and dreamy, with the requisite bedroom eyes. His tousled red hair verged on blood-black, and his skin was so clear that the freckles seemed suddenly evicted, their remains the faintest of blurred constellations. So: Toulouse--etymology unknown. He suspected it had something to do with his dad, as most things cryptic or unspoken usually did. They had christened him Louis, after Grandpa Lou (Mr. Trotter, to the world), and his grandfather was the only one ever to call him that. For all the rest he was Tull. His mother had started it. An abbreviation in his own life, she was a connoisseur of abridgments. Toulouse: the boy always used that name in his head, the way one thinks in a different language. A father tongue. There are no sidewalks in Bel-Air to speak of, and though his mother, Trinnie, forbade it, the boy and his dog regularly ventured from Grandpa's estate on Saint-Cloud Road to walk the musky, sinuous asphalt lanes--baked warm as loaves--against traffic, so as not to be run down by neighborhood denizens in careering, souped-up Bentleys and polished, high-end SUVs or by celebrity-hunting tourists, who traveled at less speed but were likelier to remain at the scene of an accident. If Pullman was struck, Tull suavely imagined, there'd be victims galore. Like plowing into a mule deer. They always found themselves at the strange house down the hill, on Carcassone Way. Well, from the road there was no house at all, no sign of the living, not even a graveled drive; merely a filigreed gate with the obscure and rusted barely discernible motto La Colonne Détruite. The entry's metal wings, fastened with a cartoonishly oversized padlock, were under siege by a dusty, haughtily promiscuous creeper, evoking melancholy in the boy--the crass finality of a dream foreclosed. They discovered another way in. He rode the dog's back through a desiccated hedge, the scratchy privet andromeda of a once finely pruned wall, until Pullman reached a clearing--quiddity of lawn smooth as the brim of some kind of wonderland bowler hat. Inside, the sudden magical oddness of a centuries-old park. The empty, vaulted space, so queerly "public"-feeling, was serenely at odds with the neighborhood's proprietary nature. Intersecting rings of a sundial armillary sphere sat atop a pedestal of English portland stone, and though Pullman drew near, it was not to relieve himself. Rather, he became instantly mindful and mannered; each time they broke in, the animal invariably yawned, downplaying his bold, jungly efforts. Tull Trotter's heart sped, as it did with any adventure to this meadowy place, dipped as it were in trespasser's spice. Mother being a landscape architect of world renown, his catchall mind knew its flora--there, in the green all-aloneness, he communed again with the elegantly attenuated pyramid of the Cryptomerias and pines; the billiardist whimsy of great clipped myrtle balls so carefully, carelessly scattered; a cutting shed made of morning glory; the junipers and wisteria that flanked the still, square ponds; then began his saunter toward the ominous allée of flat-topped Irish yews. He knew where those ancient columned soldiers led. As he entered, the air chilled and darkened. Pullman had vanished as surely as a magician's offering. Tull walked through a phalanx of sentries until far enough in to see the wild, weird thing, two hundred yards off, set apart on a hillock . . . a stout, ruined column, fluted as Doric columns should be, rent with fissures, at least fifty feet in diameter, proportions suggesting it was all that remained of a temple forty stories tall. Whatever peculiar god had made this base had provided it with crazily bejeweled windows too, oval, square and pentagonal, then snapped the tower off five floors up, where tufted weeds sprang from its serrations like hair from an old man's ear. What could he make of it? The boy had never even gotten close enough to peer in. Now he moved inexorably nearer, at once cool and febrile, the capricious breath of open fields rushing at him like a breezy compress on the forehead during a sickbed hallucination. Now he could see white, tented forms--furniture?--in the rooms within, but was interrupted when a daymare shape came from nowhere shouting, "Little fucker!" Tull was startled enough that he couldn't read any features, though it was wearing bib overalls, the perfect parody of a ghoulish Mr. Greenjeans. In a blink, the figure rudely tumbled, care of a certain Dane; the terrified man, having met a fair match for the Olympian pedestal's remains, retreated to the severed column while Tull made a sprinting Hardy Boy getaway. Regal and unruffled, Pullman strutted a beat in his master's direction, then paused, slyly turning with calm eye and tarry muzzle to fire a last warning shot toward the groundskeeper--the astonished head of whom already appeared in an upper portal of the cylindrical mirage. Then, like a Saturday-morning-television creation, the aristocratic beast leapt toward his charge, through the chilly gantlet of yews, past the huge myrtle balls leading to the brambled entry that would carry them back to Carcassone Way and the homely, reassuring traffic of the world. Excerpted from I'll Let You Go by Bruce Wagner All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Born Toulouse The boy took long walks in the countryfied Bel-Air hills with Pullman, the stately Dane-ears like membranous tepees, one eye blue, the other a forlorn and bottomless brown, jowls pinkening toward nose, arctic-white coat mottled by "torn" patches characteristic of the harlequin breed, the whole length of him an inkspot archipelago-even though the animal didn't seem particularly fond of such locomotion. Great Danes were majestic that way. They could take their jaunt or leave it.
When people learned what each was named, they usually said the two had it wrong-better the noble, gigantine champion to bear the burden of whimsy (Best of Breed to Trotter's T. Lautrec) while his master coupled to Pullman, steady, scholar'd, sleeping car Pullman, nostalgically trestle-trundling under bald hills and starstruck sky, velour shadow of midnight passengers murmuring within. Not that "Pullman" fit so well for the boy, though it might: twelve-year-old Toulouse was thin and dreamy, with the requisite bedroom eyes. His tousled red hair verged on blood-black, and his skin was so clear that the freckles seemed suddenly evicted, their remains the faintest of blurred constellations.
So: Toulouse-etymology unknown. He suspected it had something to do with his dad, as most things cryptic or unspoken usually did. They had christened him Louis, after Grandpa Lou (Mr. Trotter, to the world), and his grandfather was the only one ever to call him that. For all the rest he was Tull. His mother had started it. An abbreviation in his own life, she was a connoisseur of abridgments. Toulouse: the boy always used that name in his head, the way one thinks in a different language. A father tongue.
There are no sidewalks in Bel-Air to speak of, and though his mother, Trinnie, forbade it, the boy and his dog regularly ventured from Grandpa's estate on Saint-Cloud Road to walk the musky, sinuous asphalt lanes-baked warm as loaves-against traffic, so as not to be run down by neighborhood denizens in careering, souped-up Bentleys and polished, high-end SUVs or by celebrity-hunting tourists, who traveled at less speed but were likelier to remain at the scene of an accident. If Pullman was struck, Tull suavely imagined, there'd be victims galore. Like plowing into a mule deer.
They always found themselves at the strange house down the hill, on Carcassone Way. Well, from the road there was no house at all, no sign of the living, not even a graveled drive; merely a filigreed gate with the obscure and rusted barely discernible motto La Colonne Détruite. The entry's metal wings, fastened with a cartoonishly oversized padlock, were under siege by a dusty, haughtily promiscuous creeper, evoking melancholy in the boy-the crass finality of a dream foreclosed. They discovered another way in. He rode the dog's back through a desiccated hedge, the scratchy privet andromeda of a once finely pruned wall, until Pullman reached a clearing-quiddity of lawn smooth as the brim of some kind of wonderland bowler hat.
Inside, the sudden magical oddness of a centuries-old park. The empty, vaulted space, so queerly "public"-feeling, was serenely at odds with the neighborhood's proprietary nature. Intersecting rings of a sundial armillary sphere sat atop a pedestal of English portland stone, and though Pullman drew near, it was not to relieve himself. Rather, he became instantly mindful and mannered; each time they broke in, the animal invariably yawned, downplaying his bold, jungly efforts. Tull Trotter's heart sped, as it did with any adventure to this meadowy place, dipped as it were in trespasser's spice. Mother being a landscape architect of world renown, his catchall mind knew its flora-there, in the green all-aloneness, he communed again with the elegantly attenuated pyramid of the Cryptomerias and pines; the billiardist whimsy of great clipped myrtle balls so carefully, carelessly scattered; a cutting shed made of morning glory; the junipers and wisteria that flanked the still, square ponds; then began his saunter toward the ominous allée of flat-topped Irish yews.
He knew where those ancient columned soldiers led.
As he entered, the air chilled and darkened. Pullman had vanished as surely as a magician's offering. Tull walked through a phalanx of sentries until far enough in to see the wild, weird thing, two hundred yards off, set apart on a hillock... a stout, ruined column, fluted as Doric columns should be, rent with fissures, at least fifty feet in diameter, proportions suggesting it was all that remained of a temple forty stories tall. Whatever peculiar god had made this base had provided it with crazily bejeweled windows too, oval, square and pentagonal, then snapped the tower off five floors up, where tufted weeds sprang from its serrations like hair from an old man's ear. What could he make of it? The boy had never even gotten close enough to peer in. Now he moved inexorably nearer, at once cool and febrile, the capricious breath of open fields rushing at him like a breezy compress on the forehead during a sickbed hallucination.
Now he could see white, tented forms-furniture?-in the rooms within, but was interrupted when a daymare shape came from nowhere shouting, "Little fucker!" Tull was startled enough that he couldn't read any features, though it was wearing bib overalls, the perfect parody of a ghoulish Mr. Greenjeans. In a blink, the figure rudely tumbled, care of a certain Dane; the terrified man, having met a fair match for the Olympian pedestal's remains, retreated to the severed column while Tull made a sprinting Hardy Boy getaway. Regal and unruffled, Pullman strutted a beat in his master's direction, then paused, slyly turning with calm eye and tarry muzzle to fire a last warning shot toward the groundskeeper-the astonished head of whom already appeared in an upper portal of the cylindrical mirage. Then, like a Saturday-morning-television creation, the aristocratic beast leapt toward his charge, through the chilly gantlet of yews, past the huge myrtle balls leading to the brambled entry that would carry them back to Carcassone Way and the homely, reassuring traffic of the world.
From the Hardcover edition.

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