Fading Fame: Women of a Certain Age in Hollywood by Pam Munter

A review by Nalini Haynes

Fading Fame is a shocking historical fiction collection of stories told in different media – short stories, poems, plays – about women in Hollywood. While the author stresses these stories are fiction, she appears to have researched her subjects and written plausible stories to explain pivotal moments in their lives.

I say “apparently” because I’m not one to follow stories of celebrities’ lives. Many of these people are new to me. However, what I do know of both individuals and Hollywood culture is consistent. I kept reminding myself that these stories are HISTORICAL FICTION, not fact. And yet they’re so plausible.

Trigger warning

Many of Fading Fame‘s characters suffered abuse of some kind. Whether that was a controlling father, a sexual predator manipulating their career, or some other person holding the financial strings. In recent years we’ve seen allegations of Stan Lee and Nichelle Nichols suffering similar abuses while in their declining years. And then there’s the whole Britney Speers saga, where her father was apparently taking about $16,000 a month as a reward for controlling her life while claiming she’s unfit to decide to marry or have a child. Where money is involved, where a person is perceived to have any vulnerability, the sharks start circling. Therefore these issues are not going away any time soon.

The verdict

Fading Fame is, I suspect, going to hold cult status in celebrity stans’ circles where they have a better grasp on these women’s lives than I. It’s an emotionally difficult read. Fading Fame is an emotionally difficult, possibly triggering roller coaster ride. Some victories, some suffering, some horror evoked because these stories are set within real people’s known circumstances.

As a feminist read, I feel Fading Fame is excellent. Munter evokes the past as a call to action for the present. This collection gives context to the Free Britney Spears movement, reminding readers how men seek to control women by branding them “mad” and locking them in the attic, whether that action is literal or figurative.

Readers who enjoy Fading Fame may enjoy Lovebirds, a tale about the aftermath of a man returning from the Vietnam war focusing on his estranged wife.

Book details

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN-10‏: ‎ 1954351763
ISBN-13‏: ‎ 978-1954351769
Imprint: Adelaide Books
Format: Paperback 298 pages; kindle
Released: 2021
Category: Historical Fiction, feminism
Fading Fame