Shakespeare has nothing on Layne Fargo’s Temper.
I listened to the Audible version of Layne Fargo’s debut novel, Temper, and it was a one hundred percent thrill-ride. The story revolves around a stage play, which proved to be an excellent plot setting not only for the action but for revealing the characters’ innermost selves.
Drama and film probably top the other arts in attracting or creating egotists. Fargo balances the ego-driven characters with several who are passive-aggressive, a personality trait equally as insidious. This is a story of full-fledged knives out and sharpened by all the main characters, each in their relentless and self-absorbed drive to get what they want: artistic recognition and sex, sex, sex.
This is one of the most forthrightly erotic novels I can recall since reading Scott Spencer’s Endless Love many years ago. Although many novels attempt to portray sex, few do so in an erotic way; it’s all too often either more biological or animalistic that sexy. (Movies too.) Rarely in a human, needful, way. Fargo does.
There are two stories, one of Kira, a struggling actor, the other Joanna, assistant to Malcolm, the director and third lead character. (A menage a trois??) Kira is aggressively sexual and frank about her desires; Joanna is utterly repressed, longing for Mal in a major case of unrequited desire. Their first-person narratives unfold an alternating chapter at a time, masterfully accomplished by the author.
Adding a certain chaos to everything, many of these people are not exclusively heterosexual. We begin to see the complexity of actors who live to portray fictional people, acting in and out of character on a live stage.
I’ve no doubt this is a great read, but it was also a great listen. The two female leads were played by two accomplished, convincing voice actors, Jayme Mattler (as Kira?) and Hillary Huber (as Joanna?) (there must be a source to learn who did which, but I couldn’t find it). In any event, both were utterly in character and convincing in their roles.
I find it interesting that listening to a good novel draws me into the story in ways reading does not: I scowl, I growl, I sigh, I laugh, I cry. For me, it’s not right for every work, but it has added a dimension to my literary experiences nonetheless. And it makes me all the more committed to—and excited about—hearing my own novels produced in Audible versions.
I eagerly await Fargo’s next novel, They Never Learn, due out in October.