Tuesday, March 1, 2016

David Handler

David Handler’s first book in the Berger and Mitry series, The Cold Blue Blood, was a Dilys Award finalist and BookSense Top Ten pick. Handler is also the author of eight novels about the witty and dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful, neurotic basset hound, Lulu, including Edgar and American Mystery Award winner The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald.

His new book, the 11th Berger and Mitry Mystery, is The Lavender Lane Lothario.

Recently I asked Handler about what he was reading. His reply:
I’m currently reading What Makes Sammy Run? This is Budd Schulberg’s landmark 1941 Hollywood novel about the meteoric rise of a brash, ruthless and utterly fascinating young New York City street urchin named Sammy Glick. I’ve read What Makes Sammy Run? many times and yet I still find myself drawn to this wonderful book every few years for the brilliance of Schulberg’s insights and for the sheer delight of reading it.

Budd Schulberg was a child of the movie business. His father, B.P. Schulberg, was one of its pioneering moguls. Budd was only in his 20s when he wrote the novel, his first, yet he understood the sad, desperate hunger of the Sammy Glicks of the business better than any writer has before or since. He would go on to write another very fine Hollywood novel, The Disenchanted, based upon his ill-fated, real life screenwriting collaboration with F. Scott Fitzgerald. He also wrote the screenplays for such remarkable films as On The Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd.

Yet What Makes Sammy Run? remains Budd Schulberg’s masterpiece.

The novel is timeless. I started writing for films and television nearly a half-century after it was published and I can report to you that I was stabbed in the back myself by countless Sammy (and Samantha) Glicks before I quit to write books full time. The business never changes. The people don’t change. They may have degrees from Harvard and Yale now, but they still have that same sad, desperate hunger.

When I was a very young reporter and screenwriter in New York City I had a chance to spend two afternoons interviewing Budd Schulberg. He was a kindly, gentle man who was very generous with his time and his insights. After I’d told him about some of the screen projects I’d worked on he asked me why I was living in New York instead of Los Angeles. I remember that I gave him an easy, flippant answer: “Because I hate spending all day in the car.” He shook his head at me and said, “Come on, David, you can do better than that.” So I gathered myself and said, “Because my dream is to write a novel someday and I know that if I live out there I’ll never write it.” And he smiled at me and said, “That was a much better answer.”
Learn more about the book and author at David Handler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue