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Rudy Wurlitzer: Two-Lane Blacktop And Beyond

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In reference to Rudy Wurlitzer‘s ‘69 debut, Nog, none other than Thomas Pynchon said: “The novel of bullshit is dead.””  A not bad start for Wurlitzer, the sole member of the piano-making clan who never saw a dime (or not many) from his family name.

Tracing the often-psychedelic wanderlust of its title character who was either insane or drug-addicted (or both), Nog brought Wurlitzer a certain degree of fame as a novelist, but he’s perhaps best known, and celebrated, for his screenwriting.  His collaboration with Sam Peckinpah yielded the Bob Dylan-scored Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.  Two years before that, though, he and Monte Hellman pulled off one of my all-time cinematic favorites, Two-Lane Blacktop.

Starring James Taylor and Dennis Wilson (both looking shockingly boyish) as eternally drifting drivers, Two-Lane featured sparse dialogue and even sparser performances.  Visually, though, it’s pure poetry, and, to me, a still-vital piece of American existentialism—especially in its final moment.  The trailer for Two-Lane follows below.

And just up at Chuck Palahniuk‘s website, an excellent, yet typically elusive, interview with Wurlitzer where he discusses everything from Dylan to Pynchon.  Regarding his new-ish novel, The Drop Edge of Yonder, Wurlitzer also addresses, politely, “l’affaire de Jim Jarmusch.”  Apparently, the director “pillaged” from Wurlitzer the raw material he’d later shape into Dead Man.  You can read the interview here.

 
See also in Arthur Magazine: ON THE DRIFT: Rudy Wurlitzer and the Road to Nowhere

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.03.2009
03:30 pm
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