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Celebrity and reality are blurred in surreal debut novel

Celebrity and reality are blurred in surreal debut novel

Ad Lib, the debut novel from Wellingtonian Thomasin Sleigh, follows the surreal journey of Kyla Crane, who is convinced to star in a new reality TV series after the death of her mother, celebrity singer Carmen Crane.

While the topic of reality TV might appear light, the questions raised for the surviving child are anything but: how do we grieve when we’re under constant watch? Can inherited celebrity ever lead to a good life?

Ad Lib explores the desire to be recognised and filmed, and the simultaneous destructiveness of this process," says Sleigh. "So much of the book—the cameras, the filming, the editing, the image repetition—is nostalgic for the postmodernism of the 1980s, but I hope offers a contemporary take on these themes. We see ourselves replicated in images every day, and I don't know whether this helps us understand ourselves more fully or makes us disconnected."

As her mother’s agent pressures Kyla into continuing Carmen Crane’s celebrity legacy, the show’s narrative loses its way and the camera crew stop simply recording and begin to echo events—much like a Greek chorus.

“I intended the camera crew to be the readers of Kyla’s story; I wanted the text to be filled with busy writers and readers going about their work, in the same way that I was going about mine. The camera crew's behaviour came directly from the writing process. I had a feeling, a vibe I wanted to imbue the novel with: surrealism, instability, and unconventional tangents,' says Sleigh.

“Thomasin’s background in visual arts gives Ad Lib a crisp aesthetic that is both uncanny and cleverly crafted”, says Murdoch Stephens from Lawrence & Gibson publishing.

Ad Lib is Thomasin Sleigh’s first novel. The novel expands on her previous writing about art through its focus on images and visual culture. She regularly contributes to The Lumière Reader, and has written about art for many publications and galleries in Australasia including Eyeline, Un Magazine, Runway and Urbis.

Ad Lib will be launched by Lawrence & Gibson publishing at 19 Tory St, 6pm Wednesday March 5th, in conjunction with Richard Meros’ Dating Westerners: tips for the New Rich of the Developing World.

For review copies of either book, more details and press:


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