It’s been a while since inspiration struck for a book-related blog but after the operation last week I treated myself to a stack of books I’ve been desperate to read for ages. One of them, Character Breakdown by Zawe Ashton, is like nothing I’ve ever read before and it immediately warranted a whole blog to itself.
I have always had a soft spot for actresses’ autobiographies as is well documented on this blog that is *supposed* to be about fiction, but Character Breakdown occupies a wonderful space between fiction and non-fiction, which is kind of the whole point. The stories told in this book come in one of two forms: a script following the world of ‘Actress,’ or a casting character breakdown with a narrative. Don’t try to work out what’s ‘real’ and what’s not, it’ll ruin the fun.
Ashton, who you probably know best as Vod from Fresh Meat, is a really gifted writer, partly because she possesses the extraordinary talent of being able to say a lot by either saying very little or by saying nothing at all. The blank spaces of this book speak as loudly as the text, perhaps even louder. Some of the most striking parts of Character Breakdown come in the shortest of stories that are simply an interaction between an actress and a casting call, but the entrenched racism and sexism of the theatre/film/TV/showbiz industries scream off the pages so obnoxiously that no commentary is required.
The book gives off the vibe of a strained inner monologue but the liminal nature of its genre keeps you on your toes about whose monologue it is. This book is in a world of its own and I didn’t want to leave. Five stars from me.