Memoirs and Misinformation: A novel272
Memoirs and Misinformation: A novel272
Meet Jim Carrey. Sure, he's an insanely successful and beloved movie star drowning in wealth and privilege—but he's also lonely. Maybe past his prime. Maybe even ... getting fat? He's tried diets, gurus, and cuddling with his military-grade Israeli guard dogs, but nothing seems to lift the cloud of emptiness and ennui. Even the sage advice of his best friend, actor and dinosaur skull collector Nicolas Cage, isn't enough to pull Carrey out of his slump.
But then Jim meets Georgie: ruthless ingénue, love of his life. And with the help of auteur screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, he has a role to play in a boundary-pushing new picture that may help him uncover a whole new side to himself—finally, his Oscar vehicle! Things are looking up!
But the universe has other plans.
Memoirs and Misinformation is a fearless semi-autobiographical novel, a deconstruction of persona. In it, Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon have fashioned a story about acting, Hollywood, agents, celebrity, privilege, friendship, romance, addiction to relevance, fear of personal erasure, our "one big soul," Canada, and a cataclysmic ending of the world—apocalypses within and without.
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|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||7.90(w) x 5.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
DANA VACHON is the author of the novel Mergers and Acquisitions. His essays and journalism have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, and Vanity Fair. He lives in Brooklyn.
Read an Excerpt
They knew him as Jim Carrey.
And by the middle of that December his lawn had burned to a dull, amber brittle. And at night, after the sprinklers’ ten minutes of city-rationed watering, the grass blades floated in pooled water— limp and wasted like his mother’s hair in the final morphine sweats.
The city of Los Angeles had been moving hellward since April, with bone- dry reservoirs and strings of scorching days, the forecasts reading like a sadist’s charm bracelet, 97- 98- 105- 103. Last week an F-16 had flashed like a switch-blade through the ash- filled sky just as one of the gardeners on the Hummingbird Road estate collapsed of sunstroke and fell into seizures. The man fought as they carried him to the house, saying the Virgin Mary had promised him a slow dance for three dollars in the cool shade of the ravine. At night came the Santa Anas, those devil winds that sapped the soul, that set police sirens wailing as the sunsets burned through napalm oranges into sooty mauves. Then each morning a smoggy breath would draw across the canyons and into the great house, passing through air filters recently equipped with sensors to detect assassination by nerve gas.
He was bearded and bleary eyed after months of break-down and catastrophe. He lay naked in his bed, so far from peak form that if you watched through a hacked security camera at this moment you might barely recognize him, might at first confuse him with a Lebanese hostage. Then, in a swell of facial recognition, you’d realize: This is no ordinary shut-in watching television alone on a gigantic bed, and as the bloodred Netflix logo glared from an unseen TV you’d say, “I know this man, I’ve seen him on everything from billboards to breakfast cereals. He’s the movie star: Jim Carrey.”
Just weeks ago, thirty seconds of home security footage was leaked to The Hollywood Reporter by some traitor in his extended personal-protection apparatus. In it Carrey bobbed facedown and fetal in his pool, wailing underwater like a captive orca. His publicist, Sissy Bosch, told Variety that he was preparing to play John the Baptist for Terrence Malick, who conveniently declined comment. The video sold for fifty thousand dollars, a sum just large enough to inspire that most sacred of animal behaviors— a spontaneous market response. After the fifth paparazzo scaled his backyard fence, his security team had it raised to fifteen feet, electrified, and fringed with razor wire, an eighty-five-thousand-dollar job including the city council bribe. Jim had since begun to hear the sizzles and squeaks of electrocuted wildlife as a sorrowful necessity, animal sacrifice to his godhead. And while some believed Sissy Bosch’s John the Baptist story, most noted that it didn’t explain Carrey’s weight gain, or why some heard a distinctly Chinese accent in his moanings.
It was now 2:58 in the morning.
He’d been watching television for seven hours.
The binge had started with an episode of Ancient Predatorsfeaturing Megalodon, the super-shark terror of the ancient seas. Then came Cro-Magnon vs. Neanderthal, the story of how these early humans parted as cousins on the African plains, then re-met as strangers in Europe, only to begin a contest of genocide. Cro-Magnon had slaughtered without mercy, leaving famished Neanderthal orphans staring out from French caves into a blizzard, whose screaming whiteness, Jim knew, was that of total erasure. He was half French Canadian and learned from the narrator that he carried Neanderthal DNA within him; he was descended from these orphans. Feeling their doom as his own, he’d begun crying tears of desolation and then, unable to bear these, he’d hit pause with his grease-slicked thumb, freezing the screen on the tiny Neanderthal faces. For ten minutes he lay trembling, muttering “Oh God...” over and over until Netflix, greedy for its own bandwidth, reset to the main menu, casting its red glow over him and his guard dogs—identical twin, steel-toothed Rottweilers who both answered to “Jophiel.” Their name was shared for the sake of efficiency in emergency, so that if one of Jim Carrey’s many enemies broke into the house and he had only seconds to act, he could summon both with a breath.
Fearing this was the moment when he would discover his own long-standing nonexistence, questioning even the value of an existence as part of a species forever looping between horror and heartache, he wondered if the latest viral news story vexing his publicists was right. Had he actually died while snowboarding in Zermatt? He’d seen a YouTube video about how time behaves strangely in death, your final seconds distending, yielding rich washes of experience. What if he had died in recent days, arriving not in a hell or a heaven but rather a bedbound purgatory?
He’d heard stories about the Los Angeles morgue. Bored attendants taking gross pictures of the famous fallen, selling them to TMZ for down payments on houses in the Valley. He flipped to YouTube, whose algorithms, like reading his mind, offered a montage of celebrity death photos. A shot of John Lennon. Face puddled on a gurney. Splayed out for the crowd. If they could do this to John Lennon...
His mind now conjured an image of his own lifeless form, swollen and foul, the morgue goons standing above him, cameras blazing.
“Fuck...,” he breathed, unsure if he’d breathed it or not.
He’d gone to the bathroom, trying to reclaim existential certainty with a warm rush of urine through his middle-aged urethra. His heart was racing. What if it failed in his sleep and they found him in the morning, caked in his own excrement? What if the entire flight of paranoia that had brought him to this moment of feared death was a premonition of a future death, the Zermatt snowboarding disaster just fate’s deft misdirection? No, if death should come, he’d look his best—crevice as clean as a whistle.
Thus resolved, he’d sat on his Japanese toilet and evacuated his bowels, wiped himself, and hopped in the shower, thoroughly sponging the orifice, then drying and powdering himself. He moved to the vanity mirror and kept going, trimming his wiry eyebrows, plucking the wolf hairs from his ears, rubbing bronzer across his forehead, his neck, around his clavicles in a broad swoop, so he looked like a Grecian bust.
Now he was ready for the boys at the morgue.
Here was a great star, they’d say. A box-office god of the kind they don’t make anymore.
Now he was marginally less afraid.
He settled back into bed and began watching the first thing Netflix offered: Pompeii Reconstructed: Countdown to Disaster.
“This was the Hamptons or Riviera of the ancient world,” said the host, Ted Berman, an off-brand Indiana Jones in a thrift-store fedora. Once again, Jim felt reality blurring into fiction as a digitally animated cloud of burning ash billowed up from Mount Vesuvius, the computerized notion of a camera’s POV rose with it, high above the city, then stopped and panned into the volcanic crater, which suddenly seemed so very endless and all-devouring that Carrey cried out, “Security inventory!”
“Internal zones clear,” replied his house, in the voice of a Singaporean opium heiress who summered in Provence. “You are safe, Jim Carrey.”
“Defense barrier status?”
“Let’s do a voltage surge. Just to be sure.”
The television’s light dimmed as he heard a sound like a giant zipper being pulled around the property, twenty thou-sand volts of electricity surging through his razor-wire fence.
“Tell me I’m safe again,” said Carrey. “And loved.”
“You are safe. And loved.”
“Tell me something nice about me.”
“Your monthly water usage is down three percent.”
The television regained brightness. The program resumed.
An earthquake had just rocked Pompeii, a natural phenomenon that the Romans had never experienced. Some thought it was the first act of a miracle and stayed to see more. Others were less sure, fleeing through the city gates.
“No one could have guessed,” said Ted Berman, “that all who remained would die.”
A succession of desperate moments with the documentary’s main characters: a shipping magnate and his pregnant wife; young sisters born into a brothel; a high-ranking magistrate, his family, and their African slave.
Eyes tearing, Jim wondered: Was it wise to keep watching Pompeii, with the images of megalodons still fresh on the brain? With those Neanderthal orphans still paused in their French cave? Charlie Kaufman once told him that cinema’s guiding illusion of distinct frames effecting fluid continuity was the same trick that creates the impression of time in the mind— that past and present are invented concepts, necessary fictions. Were he and the Pompeians just disparate squares of celluloid? Were they feeling the collapse of his world just as he was feeling the destruction of theirs? Was there only one pain? If this was true, then it must hold not only for the original Pompeians but for the actors playing them, people struggling for the next job.
To be seen. To matter.
Money was in charge now. Money had made them all indentured dreamers.
I don’t have to be like this . . .
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