In Writers in America, scriptwriter and novelist Budd Schulberg shares memories and insights from his relationships with authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Nathaneal West, and Sinclair Lewis, as well as brilliant writers who never attained the success and recognition they deserved, such as Thomas Heggen.
Here are stories of 20th-century American literary giants, by a man who was their friend, peer, and confidant. For example, when the author was introduced to F. Scott Fitzgerald as a potential partner on a screenplay, Schulberg was surprised that the author was still alive. In Schulberg’s view, the pressures of success and the public’s merciless judgment had destroyed Fitzgerald’s talent early in his career - a situation that is arguably typical for many of America’s great literary geniuses.
I had to do stupid, pointless stuff like eat and sleep and work, otherwise this would have been a cover-to-cover listen for me. Which is amazing because I damned near threw my poor phone at the wall, like, eight times, during the first ten minutes of listening time. BAD narration. First, it's plodding. Like crazy. Okay, so I switched it to x1.25 speed, and that helped some. But that didn't do much for the near monotone or halting delivery. Or the fact that the intro, then prologue, whole beginning is just plain dull.
Ahhhhh, but once Schulberg gets us into the bios! They're like nothing I've ever heard before! Granted, this is a very dated book, so these are early writers, but still! This is a wonderful book for writers, for people interested in the human condition, for those of us who travel down lonely roads, look to the side and can't help themselves when they find themselves gaping at the most extraordinary train wreck! Here are Sinclair Lewis, William Saroyan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Pep" West, Thomas Heggen, and Steinbeck, and there's a lot of sorrow to be had.
Granted, the formula used when choosing the subjects for the book was who experienced Success/Failure or Failure/Success (of course in West's case, it was... Failure/Failure), so of course there are going to be wild swings of emotion. Still, this is a rollercoaster ride of a book, and one I highly recommend. Because Schulberg knew these guys, drank a lot of orange wine >ick< with these guys. And boy, does he have stories to tell.
If you can get past the narration...!
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