Thursday, May 21, 2009

Notes for May 21st, 2009

This Day In Writing History

On this day in 1916, the novelist Harold Robbins was born in New York City. His first novel, Never Love A Stranger, was published in 1948. The violent, sexually explicit (though not nearly as explicit as Robbins' later novels) tale of Francis Kane's (Robbins' birth name; he was given the adoptive name Harold Rubin) daring rise from poor Hell's Kitchen orphan to top Mafia boss proved to be quite a shocker. According to Robbins, his publisher, Pat Knopf, bought the manuscript because "it was the first time he had ever read a book where on one page you'd have tears and on the next page you'd have a hard-on."

A former employee of Universal Studios, Robbins used his knowledge of the movie business to write his second novel, The Dream Merchants, published in 1949. The novel, inspired by the life of Unversal's founder Carl Laemmle, takes place from the early days of the silent film era through the advent of sound film and tells the story of a young man with no money and big dreams who goes to Hollywood and builds a great film studio. Robbins' 1952 novel, A Stone For Danny Fisher, was adapted as the acclaimed Elvis Presley movie, King Creole. His most famous novel, The Carpetbaggers, was published in 1961.

The Carpetbaggers, which told the tale of Jonas Cord, a wealthy industrialist and aviator who decides to get involved in the filmmaking business, was thought by some to be based on the life of Howard Hughes, but Jonas Cord was mostly modeled after Bill Lear, inventor of the Lear jet plane, the car radio, and the 8-track tape player. Though the novel broke new ground in its literary depictions of graphic sex and violence, in 1964, it was adapted into a heavily sanitized feature film which starred George Peppard as Jonas Cord.

Quote Of The Day

"Obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk." - Henry Miller

Vanguard Video

A while back, an essay of mine about the late, great poet and novelist Richard Brautigan was published here on the blog. Today, I present the following video of Brautigan reading his poetry and excerpts from his novels. The soundtrack was taken from the author's 1970 spoken word album, Listening To Richard Brautigan:

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