While an authentic and creative twist on wrestling fiction, this novel doesn’t reach the heights of its subject.
Most fiction titles I’ve covered in this blog have been in the third-person and have covered multiple characters, whether a romantic pairing or an intricate web of backstabbers. Hail, Caesar takes a different approach, presented as a fictional autobiography of wrestler Bob Ceasar.
A wrestling novel needs three things to succeed: authenticity, good writing and a gripping story. For the most part this succeeds on the first count. It reads much like a ghost-written account of a wrestler’s life, much in the vein of a WWE publication.
While the timeline doesn’t always match up (the book’s equivalent of early 1990s Monday Night Raw has a full-blown creative team and dedicated segment writers), the settings of a Quebec independent group and a WWF-like national promotion are both plausible, though the lack of any competing groups remove a dramatic tension that the real Monday Night Wars brought.
The book is an easy enough read without needless complexity, with the odd apparent diversion usually turning out to serve a purpose. There is the occasional misstep including a section where Ceasar goes into great detail about how to invest in index-linked funds. While it’s certainly believable that the character might have included this in an autobiography, particularly if the page count was running short, it’s a headscratcher for a novel reader.
Where the book doesn’t pay off is the plot. Without giving too much away, Ceasar has an extremely smooth ride to the top and a successful career. While his in-ring storylines have all manner of setbacks and conflict, his “real life” and career poses virtually no challenges or obstacles. As a result, there’s no real story arc or conflict to overcome.
It’s an interesting concept for a novel, but ultimately it’s lacking in dramatic tension.