Thirty Second World by Emma van der Vliet(Penguin SA)

A lifetime ago I spent a couple of years in the film industry, and from Emma van der Vliet’s funny account, not much has changed.

The grips still walk around with their pants weighed down by tools, the directors are still highly-strung and see themselves as artistes.

And the newbies are still fair game for seasoned veterans of the location shoot and their dubious intentions.

Beth is an artist who finds her way into the art department at a commercial production company.

The stakes are high and there’s no room for error, which soon results in naive Beth becoming submerged in this rarefied environment where nothing else seems real.

She watches in awe as tough, brittle producer Alison slowly unravels with the stress of balancing home and family with the demands of clients who don’t know the word no.

Along the way Beth becomes friends with a delightfully camp wardrobe master and gets too close for comfort to a sexy, but sleazy location manager whose history with Alison is a subtext beneath every interaction.

Emma van der Vliet writes about a world she knows well, but balances an insider’s insights with a writer’s observant eye.

The result is a funny, highly readable novel that demystifies the glamour of the film industry with a very human perspective.

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