Writers in AmericaPosted: June 28, 2016
Writers in America was an enjoyable diversion. This is not an academic discussion. Rather Schulberg describes his personal encounters with some of the country’s major twentieth-century authors. Schulberg was the son of a Hollywood studio mogul and as such had an in into that world.
The first essay describes his encounter with Sinclair Lewis. Schulberg was a college student at a time and Lewis was reaching the end of his career. He was warned that Lewis had a hoard of assistants to keep fans away, but he went to the Lewis home anyway, not far from his Dartmouth campus. Lewis was home alone. No assistants, and his wife was away on a lecture tour. They sat together, talked and drank.
Schulberg met F. Scott Fitzgerald when Fitzgerald was brought in to fix a movie script Schulberg was working on. The two got into a lot of trouble together and the eventual movie was universally declared to be awful. Then there was his friendship with William Saroyan and Saroyan’s addiction to betting at the race track. He describes a one-time meeting with Thomas Heggen, author of the original Mister Roberts novel and his struggle with success. Sadly Heggen committed suicide shortly thereafter.
Schulberg writes from a unique perspective, and despite (or perhaps because of) his being a Hollywood studio brat, his description of these encounters makes for a great read.