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Don Carpenter was one of the finest novelists working in the west. His first novel, A Hard Rain Falling, first published in 1966, has been championed by Richard Price, and George Pelacanos who called it "a masterpiece...the definitive juvenile-delinquency novel and a damning indictment of our criminal justice system," is considered a classic. His novel A Couple of Comedians is thought by some the best novel about Hollywood ever written.He was a close friend of Evan Connell and other San Francisco writers, but his closest friendship was with Richard Brautigan, and when Brautigan killed himself, Carpenter tried for some time to write a biography of his remarkable, deeply troubled friend.He finally abandoned that in favor of writing a novel. Friday's at Enricos, the story of four writers living in Northern California and Portland during the early, heady days of the Beat scene. A time of youth and opportunity, this story mixes the excitement of beginning with the melancholy of ambition, often thwarted and never satisfied. Loss of innocence is only the first price you pay. These are people, men and women, tender with expectation, at risk and in love, and Carpenter also carefully draws a portrait of these two remarkable places, San Francisco and Portland, in the 50s and early 60s, when the writers and bohemians were busy creating the groundwork for what came to be the counterculture.Recently discovered in a complete penultimate manuscript, having been lost since the author's death, we re thrilled to see this book into print. A great champion of Don Carpenter, Jonathan Lethem, has taken on the task of editing and developing this last draft into the shape we imagine Carpenter would have himself accomplished had he lived to see this through. And Lethem provides a wonderful introduction to this book, to Carpenter, and to the broad influence of his work which resonates until this very day.
Don Carpenter's Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good--a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary conﬁnement. In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class--married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end.
Don Carpenter wrote about Hollywood like no one else. Hollywood Trilogy collects, for the first time, Carpenter's most significant Hollywood novels-A Couple of Comedians, The Turnaround and The True Life Story of Jody McKeegan-into a single volume. Here readers will find the jungle of "B" movie Hollywood with no attempt to dress up the rawness and vulgarity of this "glamorous" town. Carpenter's characters occupy every facet of Hollywood-there are naïve and shy young men trying to break into the business, one-picture wonders, comedy duos, beautiful starlets and middle-aged moguls wondering how exactly they got where they are. All are drawn with the wit, pace and above all, the authenticity that were Don Carpenter's trademarks.Following the Spring 2014 publication of Friday at Enrico's, Carpenter's "forgotten" novel, finished and championed by Jonathan Lethem, interest in Carpenter's work is at an all time high. Hollywood Trilogy will introduce readers to an entirely new facet of Carpenter's work, just waiting to be discovered by a contemporary audience.
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