A nostalgic new showbiz novel ... Well-researched ... An unqualified success ... Up With the Sun raises the drapes on a weird corner of this past, rousing and rummaging through. We’re left rubbing our eyes.
A non-chronological tour of key moments in the up and down life of an egotistical, superficial and 'aggressively ingratiating' figure ... A hypnotically readable book...both typical and atypical of Mr. Mallon’s other period fictions centered on real people ... Mr. Mallon uses his new lead to bring an era to life with satiric specificity—and he allows his main character enough insight to perceive his own flaws without having the will to fix them ... His prose is imbued with the snark and sentiment of the showbiz world it describes—the legendary theaters, the hits and flops, the camaraderie, envy and ego ... A vivid portrait.
Engrossing ... The tabloid-style death of a forgotten actor strikes one as rather narrow for a novelist of Mallon’s broad capabilities ... But this quibble vanishes as the book commences and we are gulled, immediately, by its keen portrait of New York in 1980, its effortless evocation of period and its nimble description of an encounter between Dick and a pianist named Matt Liannetta on the eve of the actor’s murder ... A pensive, often gorgeous depiction of the contrast — or really, the continuum — between gay life in Manhattan before Stonewall and life on the cusp of the AIDS epidemic ... Up With the Sun’s great triumph is to render its world in not two dimensions but three, to make the lives of a pair of peripheral players not merely operatic but genuinely, shatteringly tragic.
Smart ... Much of the fun in Up With the Sun comes from Mallon’s treatment of the parade of showbiz players that cross paths with Kallman ... Up With the Sun has its cake and eats it, too. It’s an ode to the more poisonous elements of show business that it also manages to bask in the ridiculousness of it all. You won’t like Dick Kallman. But good luck taking your eyes off him.
Dazzling ... Mallon has perfected the art of immersing readers in times past without making us feel like we're strolling through a simulacrum like Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. Unlike his anti-hero Kallman, Mallon never lays it on too thick. For instance, Mallon has an expert's fine appreciation for the mundane language of the period ... Lest the atmosphere get too nostalgic, too maudlin, Mallon's signature wit remains crisp as a kettle chip. He clearly has a blast ... Mallon's best historical novels — and this is one of them — are haunted by a sharp awareness of the transiency of things.
The novel's even-numbered chapters unspool like a mystery ... Part mystery and part homage to showbiz also-rans, this sensational (in both senses) novel imagines the aftermath of real-life actor Dick Kallman's 1980 murder and the three decades that precede it.
Sparkling ... Peppering the juicy drama of Dick’s ambition and unrequited love with pop cultural references, as well as cameos from Dyan Cannon and Kaye Ballard, Mallon creates a fascinating, page-turning tale. Readers will be swept off their feet.