Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fiction: Etta by Gerald Kolpan

It’s astonishing to think that Katherine Ross’ searing portrayal of Etta Place in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was 40 years ago this October. Part of the success of that film -- and that particular character, in fact -- had much to do with Ross’ interpretation of Etta and her relationship with Harry “Sundance Kid” Longbaugh. In reality, notLink much was known about Place, where she’d come from, who she’d been and who, ultimately, she became.

In his debut novel, Emmy Award-winning Philadelphia television reporter Gerald Kolpan tries to give Etta’s character depth and humanity ... and mostly succeeds.

Though not all of Etta (Ballantine) feels entirely believable, every moment is completely enjoyable. The flaw is not with Kolpan’s history, just some of Etta’s experiences push the envelope of believability. For example, Etta runs into several historical figures including Eleanor Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. Rather than enriching the narrative, I found these cameos somewhat jolting; pulling me back from an otherwise almost completely compelling journey.

Etta is terrific. History entwined with a talented writer’s magic. I look forward to more adventures in Kolpan’s skillful company.



Blogger Gerald Kolpan said...

Dear Linda-

Thanks so much.

Hope you'll like the ETTA website"

Gerald Kolpan

Monday, May 18, 2009 at 9:19:00 AM PDT  

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