Ed Gorman, THE GARNER FILES, James Garner with Jon Winikur
I wish I hadn't read this book.I first saw James Garner the night "Maverick" appeared on a Sunday night way back in 1956. I've been a fan of his acting ever since.
To repeat I wish I hadn't read this book; even more I wish he hadn't WRITTEN it.
I don't know who Jon Winokur is but he has served Garner poorly. I'm not naive enough to believe that the Garner of movie and TV fame is the Garner of reality. But Winokur (or Garner who did after all have the last word) should have given us an impression beyond that of an inexplicably angry man who carries so many grudges it's amazing he can stand upright.
The most irritating issue in the entire (and frequently irritating book) is Garner's treatment of Roy Huggins. Now I have mixed feelings about Huggins as a man. He named names to House UnAmerican Activities so he could keep his own enviable career going. I've written before that I don't know what I would've done in the same circumstances. Fifty-fifty I would've named names.
That said Roy Huggins is one of the giants of television. He created among other shows "Maverick," "The Fugitive" and "The Rockford Files." Note that "Maverick"created Garner's stardom and "Rockford" helped sustain it. He quotes Huggins' line: "I love Jim Garner and he hates me." Garner agrees and then bitterly brushes Huggins off.
Garner is nice to film and tv crews, supports liberal causes, loves his wife and daughter, appreciates what some writers, directors and actors have done for him. I believe all this. I don't think he's this terrible guy.
But all the people he's punched or wishes he'd punched (we get it he's a macho man), all the people he thinks have ripped him off or let him down, all the people he mocks or belittles...you know some of this would add texture and spice to the average Hollywood autobiography. But here the tone of these incidents and opinions quickly begin to make you wonder why, after all his success, he's still so troubled by a life he's clearly earned and deserves...but a life that leaves him singularly unsatisfied.
The other negative is that Winokur speeds through numerous moments that could easily have been expanded and developed. If they had been there wouldn't have been so much room left for all the bitching and misery.
Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad series of political crime novels. You can find him here.
DIRTY WORK is the debut novel from Mississippi writer, Larry Brown, and it seemed appropriate to read it around Veteran's Day since that's its subject matter. I picked it up in Mississippi last month and just wish I had picked up more of them. I have RABBIT FACTORY around somewhere and will dig it out now.
Walter James and Braiden Chaney are two Vietnam Vets lying side by side in a Vet hospital 20 years after the war. Chaney has basically spent the entire time in a hospital since the war left him with no arms or legs. James is newly admitted with some sort of brain trauma from a bullet lodge in his head. He has also been badly scarred from his years in Vietnam.
The two men eventually trade war stories, but this book does much more than that. It painted the lives of the sort of men who couldn't dodge the war--the down and dirty life they led in northern Mississippi. Much of Chaney's thoughts are dream-induced and almost biblical in theme. Who could spend 20 years in a bed and not retreat to such a place?
The two men do a lot of drinking with the beer Chaney's sister smuggles in. They also smoke a lot of pot. Their stories are different and the same. It was men like these two who served in Vietnam and never recovered from it. They either died in body or died in spirit. An amazing and thought-provoking book.
Sergio Angelini, THE WINTER MURDER CASE, SS Van Dine
Yvette Banek, FOR OLD TIME'S SAKE, Delano Ames
Joe Barone, NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING, Jane Haddam
Brian Busby, THE CROOKED GOLFERS, Frank L. Packard
Bill Crider, HIS BROTHER'S WIFE, Clay Stuart (Harry Whittington)
Scott Cupp, BLOOD OF THE LAMB, Sam Cabot
J. Escribano, BLACK ICE, Michael Connelly
Curt Evans, NO LOVE LOST, Margery Allingham
Ray Garraty, A HOUSE IN NAPLES, Peter Rabe
Jerry House, BATTLE ON MERCURY, Lester Del Rey
Nick Jones, THE SANDBAGGERS, Ian Macintosh
Geroge Kelley, BLACK MONEY, Ross Macdonald
Margot Kinberg, ONCE UPON A LIE, Jill Patterson
B.V. Lawson, MRS. KNOX'S PROFESSION, Jessica Mann
Evan Lewis, DONT'T CRY FOR ME, William Campbell Gault
Steve Lewis, MY LOVELY EXECUTIONER, Peter Rabe
Todd Mason,FACES OF FEAR: Interviews by Douglas Winter; DARK DREAMERS: Interviews by Stanley Wiater; CUT! HORROR WRITERS ON HORROR FILM, edited by Christopher Golden
Neer, DEATH WHISPERS, J.B. Carr
J.F. Norris, DESERT TOWN, Ramona Stewart
Juri Nummelin, THE POWER OF THE DOG, Don Winslow
James Reasoner, SADDLES, SIXGUNS, SHOOTOUTS, Charles Beckman, Jr (Charles Boekman)
Kelly Robinson, WILLIAM TELL TOLD AGAIN, P.G. Wodehouse
Richard Robinson, BENCHMARKS, GALAXY BOOKSHELF, Algis Budrys
Ron Scheer, ADIOS, HEMINGWAY, Leonardo Padura Fuentes
Michael Slind, THE ORIGIN OF EVIL, Ellery Queen
Kerrie Smith, THE CAVALIER CASE, Antonia Fraser
Prashant Trikkannad, PERJURY, Stan Latreille
Kevin Tipple, WHEN THE SACRED GINMILL CLOSES, Lawrence Block
James Winter, HENRY VI, PART 3, William Shakespeare
Zybahn, ROOM, Emma Donaghue