Like Glen David Gold’s last book, Carter Beats the Devil, Sunnyside is a work of fiction that draws heavily on real-life celebrities and historical figures to tell its story, but where Carter focused on the title character and his sequence of seemingly impossible escapes that tie in with the changing shape of entertainment in the 20th century, Sunnyside goes a bit earlier. Focused largely on Charlie Chaplin, it tells the story of the rise of Hollywood and the strange ending and aftermath of the first World War, weaving Chaplin’s struggles in with those of two other characters.
One of them, Lee Duncan, starts the book as an aspiring actor who at one point auditions for the Four Minute Men, the volunteers who would give propaganda-laden speeches to movie audiences in the four minutes it took to change reels.
On page 208, he meets the judges:
And on page 216, they react to his performance:
Sunnyside is the single greatest work of fiction ever published in the English language and you should buy it immediately.