Ernest Hemingway’s burger recipe is the manliest thing you can do with a cow except beat it up
11:40 am



That’s a lot of butch in one photo

My favorite Hemingway anecdotes always revolve around him being absurdly macho—like when he mocked F. Scott Fitzgerald for his monogamy, or when, in an attempt to prevent sharks from eating the tuna he had just caught, he opened fire with a Thompson submachine-gun directly into the water. This, of course, was pretty counterproductive, since it only produced more blood, attracting more sharks and exacerbating the feeding frenzy.

It only makes sense that Hemingway would tire of shooting fish at some point, and settle himself down for a nice, slow-moving animal like a cow, and it turns out that he had very interesting (and totally delicious-sounding) specifications for his burgers. Below is his recipe for an ultra-manly, super-robust burger. Apparently, Mei Yen Powder is no longer on the market, but you can approximate the rich, umami flavor with nine parts salt, nine parts sugar and two parts MSG. For 1 teaspoon of Mei Yen Powder, use 2/3 of a teaspoon of the mix, plus 1/3 of a teaspoon of soy sauce. (And don’t believe the hype about MSG—it’s harmless and delicious.)


1 lb. ground lean beef

2 cloves, minced garlic

2 little green onions, finely chopped

1 heaping teaspoon, India relish

2 tablespoons, capers

1 heaping teaspoon, Spice Islands sage

Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning — 1/2 teaspoon

Spice Islands Mei Yen Powder — 1/2 teaspoon

1 egg, beaten in a cup with a fork

About 1/3 cup dry red or white wine

1 tablespoon cooking oil

What to do–

Break up the meat with a fork and scatter the garlic, onion and dry seasonings over it, then mix them into the meat with a fork or your fingers. Let the bowl of meat sit out of the icebox for ten or fifteen minutes while you set the table and make the salad. Add the relish, capers, everything else including wine and let the meat sit, quietly marinating, for another ten minutes if possible. Now make your fat, juicy patties with your hands. The patties should be an inch thick, and soft in texture but not runny. Have the oil in your frying pan hot but not smoking when you drop in the patties and then turn the heat down and fry the burgers about four minutes. Take the pan off the burner and turn the heat high again. Flip the burgers over, put the pan back on the hot fire, then after one minute, turn the heat down again and cook another three minutes. Both sides of the burgers should be crispy brown and the middle pink and juicy.

That is one hell of a specific hamburger is it not???
Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Let Edmund Wilson’s form rejection card inspire you in 2014
09:03 am


Edmund Wilson

Edmund Wilson
I first encountered this in 2009, when I was writing for Emdashes, a website dedicated to The New Yorker magazine. It tickled me then, and it tickles me today still.

You may be hearing a lot of virtuous, communitarian, “generous” lists of resolutions today, but there’s another imperative that may take precedence, and that is to take care of Number One. Legendary American man of letters Edmund Wilson printed up a card to fend off the countless demands on his time and attention. Wilson’s approach is so stern and resolute that it can’t help being funny, which I think is how it was intended. Plus I think he often did end up doing lots of the items on his list, but the card represented a necessary intervention to secure his own sanity.

Edmund Wilson regrets that it is impossible for him to:

Read manuscripts,
Write articles or books to order,
Write forewords or introductions,
Make statements for publicity purposes,
Do any kind of editorial work,
Judge literary contests,
Give interviews,
Conduct educational courses,
Deliver lectures,
Give talks or make speeches,
Broadcast or appear on television,
Take part in writers’ congresses,
Answer questionnaires,
Contribute or take part in symposiums or “panels” of any kind,
Contribute manuscripts for sales,
Donate copies of his books for libraries,
Autograph books for strangers,
Allow his name to be used on letterheads,
Supply personal information about himself,
Supply photographs of himself,
Supply opinions on literary or other subjects.

At the top he’s written on this one, “I don’t live readings [sic] either unless I’m offered a very large fee.—E.W.”
Edmund Wilson regrets

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Novelist Graham Greene played Russian roulette as a teenager
08:24 am


Graham Greene
Russian roulette

If the first volume of his autobiography A Sort of LIfe is to be believed, then the novelist Graham Greene did not have a very auspicious childhood.

His earliest memory was of sitting in his pram atop a hill, with a dead dog at his feet. When he was five, Greene walked with his nurse close to an alms-house, outside of which a crowd had gathered. Suddenly a man rushed forward and into the building. It was said he was about to cut his throat. Greene and his nurse waited among the wide-eyed spectators, until the man appeared at an upper window and cut his throat. Greene did not recall the latter part, but his brother Raymond confirmed what happened.

Another unpleasant memory was of “a tin jerry full of blood:” Greene had just had his “adenoids out and tonsils cut.” It all reads like the memoir of one of his fictional characters, Minty say, from England Made Me. Yet, if this was not enough Blud und Tod for a budding psychologist, Greene adds in details of a recurrent nightmare:

...I was terrified by a witch who would lurk at night on the nursery landing by the linen-cupboard. After a long series of nightmares when the witch would leap on my back and dig long mandarin finger-nails into my shoulders, I dreamt I turned on her and fought back and after that she never again appeared in sleep.

Dreams, we are told, were important to Greene: “the finest entertainment known and given rag cheap,” and he claimed two of his novels and several short stories “emerged” from his dreams.

He also suffered what he described as “terrors”: a dread of birds, and bats, and a “recurring terror of the house catching fire at night”.

In his teens, Greene had a breakdown, caused by “the interminable repetitions” of school life, “its monotony, humiliation and mental pain.” It led him to seek “forms of escape”: he cut his leg in a misguided attempt at suicide; “drank a quantity of hypo under the false impression it was poisonous”; downed a bottle of hay-fever drops, which contained a miniscule amount of cocaine; picked and ate some deadly nightshade, which had a slightly narcotic effect; and swallowed twenty aspirins before swimming in the empty school baths.

Greene was sent for psychoanalysis, where he “nearly” fell in love with his analyst’s wife, and soon after with another patient (a ballet student). He then began to invent answers in response to his analyst’s probing questions, but fails to reveal if his analyst was fooled by his dissembling.

In 1923, at the age of sixteen, Greene found a pistol in a corner cupboard in the bedroom he shared with his brother.

The revolver was a small ladylike object with six chambers like a tiny egg-stand, and there was a cardboard box full of bullets. I never mentioned the discovery to my brother because I had realized the moment I saw the revolver the use I intended to make of it. (I don’t to this day know why he possessed it; certainly he had no licence, and he was only three years older than myself. A large family is as departmental as a Ministry.)

With his brother away (rock-climbing in the Lake District), the revolver was “to all intents” Graham’s own. Greene wrote that he knew what he wanted to do with it, having been inspired by a book he had read on White Russian officers, who bored with inaction in the frozen reaches of their country would invent ways to literally kill time:

One man would slip a charge into a revolver and turn the chambers at random, and his companion would put the revolver to his head and pull the trigger. The chance, of course, was five to one in favour of life.

Writing almost 50-years after the event, Greene builds on his self-mythologizing by explaining how he would have described these events if he had been dealing with an imaginary character:

...I might feel it necessary for verisimilitude to make him hesitate, put the revolver back into the cupboard, return to it again after an interval, reluctantly and fearfully, when the burden of boredom and despair became too great.

This, of course, is only to show how Greene’s “burden of boredom and despair” was far greater than any contrived fiction. He knows automatically what he will do with the revolver. His life has become so dull that he could take “no aesthetic interest” in anything others may describe as beautiful—Greene felt nothing. His “boredom had reached an intolerable depth…” and he was “fixed, like a negative in a chemical bath.”

The scene now set, Greene begins his tale:

Now with the revolver in my pocket I thought I had stumbled upon on the perfect cure. I was going to escape in one way or another…

Unhappy love, I suppose, has sometimes driven boys to suicide, but this was not suicide, whatever a coroner’s jury might have said: it was a gamble with five chances to one against an inquest. The discovery that it was possible to enjoy again the visual world by risking its total loss was one I was bound to make sooner or later.

I put the muzzle of the revolver into my right ear and pulled the trigger. There was a minute click, and looking down at the chamber I could see that the charge had moved into the firing position. I was out by one. I remember an extraordinary sense of jubilation, as if a carnival lights had been switched on in a dark drab street. My heart knocked in its cage, and life contained an infinite number of possibilities…

This experience I repeated a number of times. At fairly long intervals I found myself craving for the adrenalin drug, and I took the revolver with me when I returned to Oxford….

Then it was a sodden unfrequented lane. The revolver would be whipped behind my back, the chamber twisted, the muzzle quickly and surreptitiously inserted in my ear beneath the black winter trees, the trigger pulled.

Slowly the effect of the drug wore off—I lost the sense of jubilation, I began to receive from the experience only the crude kick of excitement. It was the difference between love and lust.

Back home, Christmas 1923, Greene “paid a permanent farewell to the drug.”

As I inserted my fifth dose, which corresponded in my mind to the odds against death, it occurred to me that I wasn’t even excited: I was beginning to pull the trigger as casually as I might take an aspirin tablet. I decided to give the revolver—since it was six-chambered—a sixth and last chance. I twirled the chambers round and put the muzzle to my ear for a second time, then heard the familiar empty click as the chambers shifted. I was through with the drug…

Though he suffered from bouts of “boredom” or rather depression in later life, Greene never repeated his gamble with death again. His brother Hugh, however, was skeptical of Graham’s story, and it has been suggested Greene would have known exactly where the single bullet lay in the chamber by the weight of the gun.

Why Graham Greene indulged in this game of Russian roulette is perhaps explained by the particulars of his childhood. His father was headmaster at Berkhamsted School. The family were domiciled in one part of the house, the other part doubled as the school rooms. The symbolic point of entry from one world to the other was through “a green baize door,” just beyond his father’s study.

At home, his mother was distant, and the young Greene could have no close affiliation with his father, as he was his headmaster.

While at school, Greene was viewed as a “Quisling,” a collaborator with the classroom enemy, someone not to be trusted by the other pupils. It left Greene isolated and desperately alone.

The thirteen weeks of a term might just as well be thirteen years. The unexpected never happens. Unhappiness is a daily routine. I imagine that a man condemned to a long prison sentence feels much the same. I cannot remember what particular item in the routine of a boarding-school roused this first act of rebellion—loneliness, the struggle of conflicting loyalties, the sense of continuous grime, of unlocked lavatory doors, the odour of farts (it was sexually a very pure house, there was no hint of homosexuality, but scatology was another matter, and I have disliked the lavatory joke from that age on). Or was it just then that I suffered from what seemed to me a great betrayal?

This sense of betrayal was to influence all of Greene’s life and fiction—it is the theme in the majority of his writing, and a factor in his relationships with others. It was also the subconscious influence on his near fatal actions in 1923—for Greene there could be no better self-vindication than the attempted betrayal of his own life.

Below, the Channel 4 News obituary of the writer, with contributions from Anthony Burgess, Richard Attenborough and Auberon Waugh.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Harold Pinter: ‘A Celebration’ with Jude Law, Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen and Colin Firth
02:52 pm


Harold Pinter

In June 2009, a group of Britain’s leading actors gathered to perform a celebration of the work of playwright Harold Pinter, for one night at London’s National Theater. The cast included Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Gina McKee, Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Irons, Kenneth Cranham, Susan Wooldridge, Michael Sheen and Henry Woolf. Jude Law and Penelope Wilton had to dash from their matinee performance of Hamlet to take part. The quality of this ensemble gives an idea of the respect with which Pinter is regarded.

The group of actors then presented a selection of extracts from Pinter’s plays, writing and poetry. The set was simple, with the cast remaining seated on stage throughout. The evening of celebration opened with Stephen Rea reading “Death,” written and published in 1997, the year Pinter’s father died. This was followed by an excellent selection from the playwright’s writings, notable amongst which were: Douglas Hodge’s reading of the playwright’s memoir “Mac,”  a comic tale of his early career in repertory theater with the famed Irish actor Anew McMaster; David Bradley eking out all of the comedy and pathos to the character of the tramp, Davies from The Caretaker; Colin Firth also delivers superb performance as the character Aston, talking about his electro-shock therapy, from the play; while Janie Dee and Michael Sheen in Betrayal, and Jude Law and Indira Varma in The Lover, bring out the strong sexual tensions inherent in both plays.

Filmed for BBC’s Arena, Harold Pinter: A Celebration is a remarkable piece of theater.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘The Ballad of the Skeletons’: Allen Ginsberg, Paul McCartney & Philip Glass, together

Throughout his long career, Allen Ginsberg was keenly aware of the power of music—and an association with generationally key musicians, like Bob Dylan and The Clash—as the candy-coated bullet to see his poetry and ideas for social and political transformation reach the younger generation.

The Ballad Of The Skeletons” with Philip Glass, Lenny Kaye, session guitarist David Mansfield, Marc Ribot and Paul McCartney (on organ, maracas and drums) was Ginsberg’s final 1996 release and in many ways, it’s probably the best of his recorded work. Even at nearly 8-minutes in length, the number never never gets dull—well with a backing band like that one...—as Ginsberg voices the lines of 66 skeletons representing American culture and hegemony. The poem was first published in the pages of The Nation in 1995.

Gus Van Sant directed a video for “The Ballad of the Skeletons” with a visually arresting Día de Muertos-style that saw the clip become an MTV “buzz clip.” Ginsberg told Steve Silberman:

“He went back to old Pathé, Satan skeletons, and mixed them up with Rush Limbaugh, and Dole, and the local politicians, Newt Gingrich, and the President. And mixed those up with the atom bomb, when I talk about the electric chair– ‘Hey, what’s cookin?’–you got Satan setting off an atom bomb, and I’m trembling with a USA hat on, the Uncle Sam hat on. So it’s quite a production, it’s fun.”


The Beat bard and Sir Paul perform “The Ballad of the Skeletons” at the Royal Albert Hall, October 16, 1995. During a visit with McCartney, Ginsberg mentioned that he was looking for a guitarist to back him during this performance. Macca said “What about me?” and below we can see the closest Allen Ginsberg ever got to being a Beatle. There’s more information about the song at The Allen Ginsberg Project.

h/t WFMU on Twitter!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Patti Smith hangs out at the Bloomsbury Group’s country retreat
10:33 am


Patti Smith

Patti Smith has a passion for the Bloomsbury Group, the influential set of upper-middle class writers, artists, philosophers and intellectuals, who came to prominence in England during the early twentieth century and lasted, in various forms, until the 1960s.

The Bloomsbury Group took its name from the district in London where its main associates lived and worked. These included the writers Virginia and Leonard Woolf, E. M. Forster, and Lytton Strachey; the artists Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Roger Fry, and Dora Carrington; economist John Maynard Keynes; and diarist Frances Partridge.

When not in London, the Bloomsbury Group gathered at their rural retreat Charleston Farmhouse, in Lewes, Sussex—the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. In recent years, one of Charleston’s regular visitors has been Patti Smith, who describes the farmhouse as “like home.”

In 2006, Smith was interviewed by the BBC’s Culture Show at Charleston Farmhouse, where she was photographing the “tea cups and saucers,” the bed where Vanessa Bell died, and the personal accoutrements of the artistic life.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
B is for Birthday: The great Alan Moore turns 60 today
04:10 pm


Alan Moore

On his fortieth birthday in 1993, Alan Moore openly declared himself to be a magician, something he discussed in an interview with The Guardian in 2002:

“One word balloon in From Hell completely hijacked my life… A character says something like, ‘The one place gods inarguably exist is in the human mind’. After I wrote that, I realized I’d accidentally made a true statement, and now I’d have to rearrange my entire life around it. The only thing that seemed to really be appropriate was to become a magician.”

For Moore, his writing is his magic and his magic is his artform. In The Mindscape of Alan Moore documentary, he states rather unequivocally:

“I believe that magic is art, and that art, whether that be music, writing, sculpture, or any other form, is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness… Indeed to cast a spell is simply to spell, to manipulate words, to change people’s consciousness, and this is why I believe that an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a shaman.”

Consider the truth of that statement in terms of Moore’s very own work and say… the Occupy movement or Anonymous.

God, I love Alan Moore. May he have the best birthday ever this year (and every year).

Click here to read about “Who Strips the Strippers?” Excelsior Burlesque’s tribute to Alan Moore.

Below, a video of Alan Moore’s complete lecture at Northampton College on September 26, 2013. The mage of comics reads an extract from his book, The Mirror of Love and offers insights on being a writer.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Hunter S. Thompson: Louisville, Kentucky finally gets around to honoring Dr. Gonzo
12:28 pm


Hunter S. Thompson

Next spring Hunter S. Thompson’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky will unveil a public mural banner on a downtown building honoring him as one of their Hometown Heroes, nine years after his death. The banner will feature a portrait of HST by his friend and collaborator, Ralph Steadman, the British artist whose drawings appropriately illustrated Thompson’s work: wild, flowing, surreal, sometimes elegant, other times grotesque, and wildly funny.

Why has it taken so long? The Greater Louisville Pride Foundation’s president admitted that Thompson had “some issues with his life that didn’t really qualify for the banners.” Even so, fans, family, and friends, including Louisville poet Ron Whitehead, have been lobbying for some kind of major memorial for eight years.

Louisville’s list of native heroes is thick with athletes and seriously short on people from the arts. Come on, Louisville, don’t be like those po-dunk small towns who can only be bothered to honor natives who went on to professional sports or marriage to William Shatner. 

Here is a list of all the people, institutions, and entities already declared heroes: boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, jockey Pat Day, broadcaster Bob Edwards, NBA star Darrell Griffith, sculptor Ed Hamilton, Louisville Slugger inventor Bud Hillerich, Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung, musician Patrick Henry Hughes, The Kentucky Derby, surgeons Dr. Harold E. Kleinert and Joseph E. Kutz, New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan, whiskey distiller George Garvin Brown, University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Denny Crum, explorer Tori Murden McClure, Olympic swimmer Mary T. Meagher, Hall of Fame baseball player “Pee Wee” Reese, KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders (I am not kidding), TV journalist Diane Sawyer, New York Giants quarterback and sports commentator Phil Simms, and welterweight boxer Rudell Stitch. It would be nice to see a banner for The Gits’ Mia Zapata someday too.

Steadman wrote to Roger Riddell of Louisville Magazine in 2012:

Who in all of Louisville is blameless that they should throw the first stone? Is there such a person in all the world who can claim such an awesome distinction? C’mon, good folks! Own up and celebrate the life of a man who wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade… I believe that the citizens of Louisville should feel real proud to call ‘HST,’ one of their favorite sons, a true Kentucky pioneer!

Ron Whitehead produced The Hunter S. Thompson Tribute in Louisville in December 1996, where Mayor Harvey Sloane presented Thompson with the key to the city, and Governor Paul E. Patton bestowed the title of Kentucky Colonel on Thompson, as well as his pals Whitehead, Johnny Depp, and Warren Zevon. The Hometown Hero banner proves that all the upstanding people who held a grudge against him for writing “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” are probably long gone. Res ipsa loquitur.

Below, Hunter S. Thompson is confronted by an angry Hells Angel on Canadian television in the late 1960s:

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Double Gonzo: Hunter S. Thompson Interviews Keith Richards

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
Harlan Ellison and the ‘Last Dangerous Visions’ Saga

Christopher Priest, The Book on the Edge of Forever
Have you ever received a letter from a friend you haven’t heard from for a while, or even an email? And then you wanted to respond right away but you wanted to do it right, not just dash something off, so you put it off a day, and the next time you thought of it, eight days had passed, and it became a thing where too much time had passed for you to write the reply straight, and you felt awkward about it, so you put it off some more, and then every day that passed made it harder to respond forthrightly? And then it turned into this odd kind of guilt, and you found yourself actually harboring hostile feelings towards your friend for having put you in that position in the first place?

Has anything like that ever happened to you? Because something quite like that happened to Harlan Ellison on the most colossal scale imaginable. The nightmare was primarily of his own making, and he didn’t handle it at all well.

Before we get into this, Ellison is a tremendously talented and accomplished guy, and nothing I write here is intended to gainsay that premise. He’s also known for being kind of a difficult guy, and well, this story has a bunch of that.

Strangely, this story revolves around a set of books that can be thought of as a kind of precursor to Dangerous Minds—the title of the project was almost identical. In addition to all of the tremendous short stories Ellison penned, one of the most impressive accomplishments on his C.V. was his involvement in publishing two highly influential and successful sci-fi anthologies. The first one was called Dangerous Visions (1967) and the second one was called Again, Dangerous Visions (1972). The debacle came when Ellison attempted to publish the third volume, which was to be called The Last Dangerous Visions. It was supposed to be published by about 1974 or so. At least 100 and maybe as many as 150 prominent and not-so-prominent sci-fi authors submitted stories with the expectation that something like that would happen.

They’re still waiting—the ones who are still alive, anyway. Actually, truth be told, they’re probably not expecting anything to happen. In short, The Last Dangerous Visions became something like the Moby-Dick of science-fiction circles for a decade or two at least.

In the 1960s something special was brewing in the world of sci-fi. After having been a ghetto for dime-store practitioners for a generation or so (with a few exceptions), science fiction was on the verge of crossing over, breaking through, becoming real literature with a grown-up audience to match. The first Dangerous Visions featured talents as notable as Carol Emshwiller and J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny and Samuel R. Delany and, of course, Ellison himself. It was a massive critical and commercial success, a true turning point for the genre. Five years later, Again, Dangerous Visions was also a hit, featuring Ursula K. Le Guin and Kurt Vonnegut and Piers Anthony and Ray Bradbury and Andrew J. Offutt and James Sallis and so on. By this time the Dangerous Visions books had entered the culture—they had an authentic audience who was eager to hear the details of the third volume. The literary brouhaha that would ensue wasn’t something that took place among a mere coterie, which gives the whole affair that much more bite.
Harlan Ellison, Dangerous Visions
Dangerous Visions, 1967
The events surrounding the massive and ever-delayed third volume, to be called The Last Dangerous Visions, were described with great vitriol by Christopher Priest, a British sci-fi writer who was just starting his career around the time The Last Dangerous Visions started to be a thing, in a 1987 pamphlet called The Last Deadloss Visions (it was later published by Fantagraphics under the title The Book on the Edge of Forever, an allusion to Ellison’s Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”). Priest submitted a story, and then at some point withdrew it from the anthology. For writers whose pay depended on the royalties from anthologies, one of the main undercurrents of the The Last Dangerous Visions affair is that the many stories Ellison collected for it were essentially trapped as long as he had them—the writers couldn’t really shop them around anywhere else, as they grew more dated and less relevant with every passing year.

The Last Deadloss Visions has existed in a couple different forms, but suffice to say that it’s very long and impassioned and well argued (you can read it on the Internet Archive).
Harlan Ellison, Again, Dangerous Visions
Again, Dangerous Visions, 1972
I’ll leave you to read it yourself—it takes an hour or so, and is well worth it—but I’ll divulge a few basic facts about it for those who don’t want to delve. What makes the situation surrounding The Last Dangerous Visions so jaw-dropping was the sheer scale of it—as many as 150 writers submitted stories, and by some calculations the number of words that the third book would have featured swelled as high as 1.3 million—this is twice as many as in War and Peace, or the same as perhaps an armful of regular-sized novels. According to Priest (his documentation is meticulous), Ellison on many occasions released statements to the effect that publication was just around the corner, he had “just dropped it off to the publisher” and so forth—none of which appears to have been true, and all of which had the effect of stringing the contributors along for another agonizing year or two. Ellison seems not to have behaved well in the affair, bullying, haranguing, and generally manipulating people, and even by 1975 or so—just three years—The Last Dangerous Visions had become something of a joke or an object of fascination in the sci-fi community. It’s the science fiction equivalent of Elastica’s second album, if you remember that length of that wait, although at least that album eventually was released. Lastly, I mentioned the death toll—which quickly became an index for the incredible time The Last Dangerous Visions was taking—by now the project is in its fourth decade, and the number of writers involved who have passed on to a different plane (according to Wikipedia) is forty-three.

Remarkably, Ellison, who today is 79 years old, has stated as recently as 2007 that he intends to publish the book.

It still hasn’t happened.

Below, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison and Gene Wolfe discuss science-fiction writing with Studs Terkel and Calvin Trillin on a program called Nightcap: Conversations on the Arts and Letters in 1982:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
J.D. Salinger wouldn’t let Jerry Lewis play Holden Caulfield
10:39 am


Jerry Lewis
J.D. Salinger

Jerry Lewis, Holden Caulfield
The list of prominent Hollywood people who wooed J.D. Salinger for the rights to The Catcher in the Rye is long and impressive—Elia Kazan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harvey Weinstein, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Marlon Brando, and Billy Wilder, according to A Reader’s Companion to J. D. Salinger’s the Catcher in the Rye, by Peter G. Beidler. In 1960 Salinger told Newsweek’s Mel Eflin that he replied to one suitor, “I cannot give my permission. I fear Holden wouldn’t like it.”

One would-be Holden that stands out, partly because it’s so bizarre, is Jerry Lewis. In his 1971 book The Total Film-Maker—published, incidentally, right around the same time he was directing and starring in his legendary, seldom-seen movie project The Day the Clown Cried, to give you an idea of his state of mind—Lewis wrote:

I have been in the throes of trying to buy The Catcher in the Rye for a long time. What’s the problem? The author, J.D. Salinger! He doesn’t want more money. He just doesn’t even want to discuss it. I’m not the only Beverly Hills resident who’d like to purchase Salinger’s novel. Dozens have tried. This happens now and then. Authors usually turn their backs on Hollywood gold only because of the potential for destruction of their material. I respect them for it! Why do I want it? I think I’m the Jewish Holden Caulfield. I’d love to play it!

It’s a testament to Salinger’s writing powers that a figure like Lewis could even for a moment imagine himself in the role—perhaps his readerly identification was that strong. One wonders if Jerry really understood anything about The Catcher in the Rye. Jewish or not, the obvious problem with casting Lewis to play Holden is age. In the novel, Caulfield has been kicked out of Pencey Prep, and is thus too young for college. At the time The Total Film-Maker was published, Lewis, born 1926, was 45 years old! Compared to the age issue, even the clear tonal difficulties of representing Holden as a goggle-eyed, guffawing spaz like Lewis seem positively manageable.

Salinger’s lover and later memoirist, Joyce Maynard, wrote in her book At Home in the World that Salinger told her that “Jerry Lewis tried for years to get his hands on the part of Holden…. Wouldn’t let up.” In Maynard’s opinion, “The only person who might ever have played Holden Caulfield would have been Jerry Salinger.” It’s unclear whether this is a reference to something that almost happened: rather remarkably, at one point Salinger considered allowing a stage adaptation—“with the author himself playing Holden.”

In 1957, Salinger replied to a fan named “Mr. Howard” who had written him to inquire why the novelist had not granted permission for The Catcher in the Rye to be made into a movie. Salinger’s reply went as follows:

The Catcher in the Rye is a very novelistic novel. There are readymade “scenes”—only a fool would deny that—but, for me, the weight of the book is in the narrator’s voice, the non-stop peculiarities of it, his personal, extremely discriminating attitude to his reader-listener, his asides about gasoline rainbows in street puddles, his philosophy or way of looking at cowhide suitcases and empty toothpaste cartons—in a word, his thoughts. He can’t legitimately be separated from his own first-person technique. True, if the separation is forcibly made, there is enough material left over for something called an Exciting (or maybe just Interesting) Evening in the Theater. But I find that idea if not odious, at least odious enough to keep me from selling the rights…. And Holden Caulfield himself, in my undoubtedly super-biased opinion, is essentially unactable.

Now that Salinger is dead, the path is probably clear for the inevitable Catcher adaptation with … Michael Cera or Justin Bieber or someone.

But at least the role won’t go to Andy Dick…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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