Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Books, April 6, 2012

Next Friday is John D. McDonald Day. Join in with your favorite JDM book.

See my review of THE HUNGER GAMES at Crimespree Cinema.

Forgotten Books: Saturday Games by Brown Meggs

SATURDAY GAMES by Brown Meggs*

Here's a golden oldie for you: SATURDAY GAMES by Brown Meggs. If I'm not mistaken (and I often am) I believe this was the novel that was first submitted to acclaimed mystery editor Babara Norville when she was editing the fine line of Bobbs-Merrill mysteries back in the early Seventies. She gave Meggs advice on how to make his manuscript marketable and he did just that. And then (or so the story goes) he promptly sold it for a better deal to Random House.

The novel was good enough to be nominated for a first novel Edgar and to go through a number of printings here and abroad. It's a dazzler. Three upper middle-class Southern California types have a little too much grass and booze fun with a gorgeous wild woman named Emjay (this was the early Seventies remember). A private pool, a lot of sex and...Emjay somehow gets herself murdered. Which of the three men is guilty? Or are all of them guilty? Or none of them guilty?

This is a real puzzler populated by real people. The hip cop Anson Freres spends the book getting to know a number of people he'd rather not brush up against but must in the line of duty. The SoCal background is wittily sketched. And the sex scenes are truly torrid. They're also proof that less is more. The novel is saturated with sexuality but there's not a hard core moment to be found.

Meggs went on to write several other novels. I've read Saturday three or four times since its original publication. It's the reading equivalent of watching a really good athlete on a really good day. The craft here is dazzling.

I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN, Hannah Greene (Joanne Greenberg), Patti Abbott

I was reading a book of short stories and came across the name of Joanne Greenberg, which was familiar to me but not familiar enough to pin it down with googling it. And then, of course, I remember. In 1964 under the pen name of Hannah Green, Greenberg published the book "I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN. This was the origin of the phrase, not the song that came six years later.

A semi-autobiographical novel, the book tells the story of a teenager who suffers a breakdown. This was a huge success, one of the first books that dealt honestly and sympathetically with teenage mental illness. The protagonist invents her own kingdom to escape the pain of daily life.Her parents don't know how to cope with this in a time when such things placed a stigma on the entire family.

They finally commit her to a hospital where after three years of intense therapy she recovered.
The diagnosis now is that the pain and depression from early surgery set this into motion rather than a "true" mental illness. She was not helped by the anit-semitism directed at her. She recovered and went on to become a successful writer.

Sergio Angelini
Yvette Banek
Joe Barone
Brian Busby
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Jose Ignacio Escribano
Elisabeth Grace Foley
Randy Johnson
Nick Jones
George Kelley
Margot Kinberg
K.A. Laity
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis/Geoff Bradley
Todd Mason
J.F. Norris
Peggy Ann
David Rachels
James Reasoner
Richard Robinson
Gerard Saylor
Ron Scheer
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang
Wuthering Willow


Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

I'd like to join in this week:

Peggy Ann said...

I am jumping in this week for the first time! Check out my <a href=">Forgotten Fridays</a> here. Thanks!

Todd Mason said...

Kate Laity has a squib!

John said...

Who wrote the Meggs review? There's an asterisk after Meggs' name and it leads nowhere. The Phantom Asterisk -- sounds like a chapter in kid's book. I bought this book recently based on a review I read at an Italian crime fiction blog (of all places!) and was hoping to make it an FFB entry later this year. Someone beat me to it. But who? Was it Ed Gorman?

Todd Mason said...

It was and is Ed Gorman. Dunno why Ed put an asterisk up on his blogpost, too...

Todd Mason said...

Wow. I didn't realize how prolific Greenberg has gone on to be. Patti, have you read much of what she's written since that second book? (Clearly the one story...)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Think I read IN THIS SIGN about a deaf family. But that's it.

Margot Kinberg said...

First, thanks for including my post. Second, I absolutely loved I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. I've read it several times and it's never gotten old...

K. A. Laity said...

Thanks to Todd for posting my link. I had an awful day of taxes but at least they're done. I loved INPYARG when I read it. I was big on books about mental illness as a youngin' because I figured I should be prepared for that eventuality.

John Weagly said...

I'll be posting a little something on MacDonald next week.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great, John!