"The Projectionist" by Kirsti Wishart is a highly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable novel that stands out as being completely different from anything else we've ever read. For reasons that will become obvious, it seems appropriate to use a quote from a film at this point: "Anything different is good." That borrow from "The Groundhog Day" can sometimes apply to books, and it certainly does in this case. I have a feeling that "The Projectionist" is one of those novels that will live on in my memory long after others that conform more closely to tried and tested formulas have faded.
To give you a sense of what the book is about, we'd be hard pressed to improve on the publisher's blurb:
"Seacrest is a seaside town for movie buffs that exists in a perpetual film festival. Seacrest residents grow up with fold-down seats in their living room, dress in Edith Head and walk to the corner-shop with the grace and style of Gable and Dietrich. Dr Jo Ashe, a film academic, moved to join her girlfriend yet finds herself alone, wondering if she'll ever be accepted by a place she's loved since childhood. Harry Lawson fights to revive the reputation of his father, a once-revered projectionist who committed suicide, whilst Luke Howard, keeper of the Cameron Fletcher Archive, devotes himself to the memory of the deceased film critic. Now Fletcher is back from the dead, guest of honour of the 85th Seacrest Film Festival. However, this Fletcher is a fake, an actor, Arthur Dott, hired by a powerful cinema boss determined to turn the town into a multiplex. But Arthur follows his own script and in doing so reveals to Harry, Luke and Jo the dangers of a life too much in love with the silver screen..."
The fictional setting and rather odd premise lends "The Projectionist" a slightly unsettling, unworldly feeling. The reader rapidly works out that although the normal assumptions of our everyday lives can be read across to the world of Seacrest in some ways, they certainly can't in others. The characters are beautifully drawn and in turn draw you into the book; and the twists and turns of the story carry you along - as does the nice love story that emerges at the book's heart.
We'd recommend "The Projectionist" as a perfect read for anyone looking for something out of the ordinary: and especially for anyone with any interest in films.