Nov 9, 2014

Book 47: The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg

Not that this blog is being written for anyone besides myself and my records, but sometimes I get back logged on getting my entries in.  The Disenchanted is one of those books causing a lull.  I knew that for me it was going to be a difficult review to write, so I thought I would just push ahead to the next book, but now 5 1/2 books later I figured I need to just write what I can and realize that it may not make any sense or be complete, and that is OK.

I was interested in this book because of the author, Budd Schulberg and the subject matter, a  young screen-writer who works along side his literary hero and is witness to his demise.

In real life, a young Budd Schulberg was hired by the studios to work out a script with F Scott Fitzgerald.  Schulberg had been a fan of FSF in college, but thought the author had died, but was thrilled to have the opportunity to work so closely with such a great writer.  They are asked to work on a script that takes place at a winter carnival on an East Coast campus, and are sent there to "capture the flavor".    During this point in his life Fitzgerald was with Sheila Graham and working on his sobriety, trying to put his life back together and move forward. This trip to Dartmouth would prove to be a disaster.

Knowing that the book was rooted in reality, I was fascinated as I read, and always looking for Fitzgerald in the character Halliday.  It was not to hard to find him, and the events of that infamous weekend.  I found much of it familiar and kept thinking there was a short storywritten on the event, but I was unable to find it.  I think most of the info I gathered  were from Bruccoli and Graham herself.

I do wonder if I would have found the book as good if the Fitzgerald connection was not there?  I found the pacing a tad slow.  But that could be because I knew where it was going.  If I did not, I think the pacing could have been OK and actually works for the story as it is a slow decline of a man and by taking such a methodical approach would make sense.  This story of the dissapation of a hero is a Fitzgerald theme and is another reason it interest me.

Would I recommend it as a read?  Yes, but it would not be a book I recommend to everyone, only people who have an interest in Fitzgerald or the Old Hollywood movie scene.  It is a shame, because it really is a moving story, but I am afraid many people are not satisfied with such a depressing ending to a book.