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Bang the Drum Slowly is the second in a series of four novels written by Mark Harris that chronicles the career of baseball player Henry W. Wiggen. This series is among the finest novels ever written to use baseball as a theme. Published in 1956, the book is a simple, moving testament to the immutable power of friendship. The title page in the novel reads; "by Henry W. Wiggen / Certain of His Enthusiasms Restrained by Mark Harris", the author's personal touch that tells us (the reader) that we are about to enter a genial, conversational first-person story. Wiggen is a gifted pitcher in the major leagues, playing for a team that includes a mediocre catcher named Bruce Pearson--a slow-talking Georgia boy who tries the patience of the team. Pearson has a secret; he has been diagnosed with Hodgkins' disease which threatens not only his life but also the baseball career that he so desperately wants. When Wiggen learns of Pearson's illness, their casual acquaintanceship deepens into a profound friendship. Wiggen fights heroically to keep Pearson on the team, saving his friend from being sent down to the minors, and he also rallies other teammates to help his friend. The miracle is that Pearson is transformed into a better ballplayer... but the miracle is brief for the man's time has already run out. In lesser hands, this story could be cloying or overly sentimental, but Harris writes with a gentle, unassuming dignity. Wiggen is an engaging character and his observations are lucid and refreshing. It may be that what makes Bang the Drum Slowly a great novel is that it is not entirely a sports novel but also a warm human comedy set in the familiar, magical world of American baseball. Bang the Drum Slowly is #14 on the Sports Illustrated Greatest 100 Sports books. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mark Harris (1922) wrote novels for more than fifty years. He is best known for four novels about the life of major-league baseball player Henry W. Wiggen, including The Southpaw (1953) and Bang the Drum Slowly(1956) He also wrote the screenplay for the film version of Bang the Drum Slowly. In 1946, Harris made a splash with his first novel, Trumpet to the World, a book about a young black soldier who married a white woman. Many of Harris's other novels have dealt with academic life, and yet more of his novels are highly informed by autobiographical experience. Harris has also published a collection of his articles entitled Short Work of It, as well as the play Friedman and Son and a unique biography of Saul Bellow. SERIES DESCRIPTIONS From classic book to classic film, RosettaBooks has gathered some of most memorable books into film available. The selection is broad ranging and far reaching, with books from classic genre to cult classic to science fiction and horror and a blend of the two creating whole new genres like Richard Matheson's The Shrinking Man. Classic works from Vonnegut, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, meet with E.M. Forrester's A Passage to India. Whether the work is centered in the here and now, in the past, or in some distant and almost unimaginable future, each work is lasting and memorable and award-winning.
In Pictures at a Revolution, Mark Harris turned the story of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967 into a landmark work of cultural history, a book about the transformation of an art form and the larger social shift it signified. In Five Came Back, he achieves something larger and even more remarkable, giving us the untold story of how Hollywood changed World War II, and how World War II changed Hollywood, through the prism of five film directors caught up in the war: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. It was the best of times and the worst of times for Hollywood before the war. The box office was booming, and the studios' control of talent and distribution was as airtight as could be hoped. But the industry's relationship with Washington was decidedly uneasy--hearings and investigations into allegations of corruption and racketeering were multiplying, and hanging in the air was the insinuation that the business was too foreign, too Jewish, too "un-American" in its values and causes. Could an industry this powerful in shaping America's mind-set really be left in the hands of this crew? Following Pearl Harbor, Hollywood had the chance to prove its critics wrong and did so with vigor, turning its talents and its business over to the war effort to an unprecedented extent. No industry professionals played a bigger role in the war than America's most legendary directors: Ford, Wyler, Huston, Capra, and Stevens. Between them they were on the scene of almost every major moment of America's war, and in every branch of service--army, navy, and air force; Atlantic and Pacific; from Midway to North Africa; from Normandy to the fall of Paris and the liberation of the Nazi death camps; to the shaping of the message out of Washington, D.C. As it did for so many others, World War II divided the lives of these men into before and after, to an extent that has not been adequately understood. In a larger sense--even less well understood--the war divided the history of Hollywood into before and after as well. Harris reckons with that transformation on a human level--through five unforgettable lives--and on the level of the industry and the country as a whole. Like these five men, Hollywood too, and indeed all of America, came back from the war having grown up more than a little.
By the time Nate Fisher was laid to rest in a woodland grave sans coffin in the final season of Six Feet Under, Americans all across the country were starting to look outside the box when death came calling. Grave Matters follows families who found in "green" burial a more natural, more economic, and ultimately more meaningful alternative to the tired and toxic send-off on offer at the local funeral parlor. Eschewing chemical embalming and fancy caskets, elaborate and costly funerals, they have embraced a range of natural options, new and old, that are redefining a better American way of death. Environmental journalist Mark Harris examines this new green burial underground, leading you into natural cemeteries and domestic graveyards, taking you aboard boats from which ashes and memorial "reef balls" are cast into the sea. He follows a family that conducts a home funeral, one that delivers a loved one to the crematory, and another that hires a carpenter to build a pine coffin. In the morbidly fascinating tradition of Stiff, Grave Matters details the embalming process and the environmental aftermath of the standard funeral. Harris also traces the history of burial in America, from frontier cemeteries to the billion-dollar business it is today, reporting on real families who opted for more simple, natural returns. For readers who want to follow the examples of these families and, literally, give back from the grave, appendices detail everything you need to know, from exact costs and laws to natural burial providers and their contact information.
This is a novel about something we all know, something we carry within us: our inward rage, our lives of fantasy. Not all of us accommodate rage or fantasy in the same way. Most of us--bless us--go about our peaceful business, though our confidential fury may produce fantasies we'd rather not confess. Sometimes some of us translate fantasies to outer life. Most of us do not. Brown, in KILLING EVERYBODY (he has no other name we know), carries in his heart a burden of anger so terrible we think that he will burst. In a sense, he does. His rage communicates. His wife, a masseuse (her trade unknown to Brown: he thinks she's in real estate), soothes his rage when she strokes his body, but she knows that her husband will never rest until he has been liberated from his unendurable obsession. It is she who gives his fantasy reality, she who delivers death to his enemy. In this book a diverse company walks the streets of San Francisco: a romantic policeman, a sexually compulsive newspaperman, a businessman who cannot read, a neighborhood temptress, her mother, her children, her dog, a corrupt war-making congressman--and the ghost of the boy the congressman sent to die in war. It is a compelling story significantly familiar to all of us whose fantasies and outrage are accessible to our consciousness.
When the lustful but impotent professor-novelist Lee Youngdahl encounters the beautiful Mariolena Sunwall, a student in his writing class, he learns of a novel she's eager to have published and decides he can help her land a book contract with one of New York's most prestigious publishing houses. But he has his own agenda and some extracurricular activities in mind. Working for Mariolena gives him the inspiration he needs to break out of his paralyzing writer's block, but that's not all he's hoping to recover from. While his wife Beth is away visiting their children on a seven-city tour, Youngdahl is determined to find a cure for his impotence and revisit his old Don Juan days.
Mark Harris beautifully depicts the epic human drama behind the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967-Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Dolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde-and through them, tells the larger story of the cultural revolution that transformed Hollywood, and America, forever.
An epic account of how the revolution hit Hollywood, told through the stories of the five films nominated for the 1967 Academy Awards. In 1963, the studios are churning out westerns, war movies, prudish sex comedies and overblown historical epics, but audiences whose interests have been piqued by an influx of innovative films from abroad are hungering for something more, something new. At Esquire, two young writers hatch a plan to create a movie treatment that they hope will attract the director Francois Truffaut: the story of the gangsters Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Mike Nichols, an improvisatory comedian turned neophyte theater director, gets his hands on an obscure first novel called The Graduate and wonders if he's ready to make the jump to Hollywood. Warren Beatty, just 26 years old and struggling through a series of flops after the success of Splendor in the Grass, decides to take his career into his own hands, but can't seem to settle on his next move. Dustin Hoffman, sleeping on friends' floors and scrounging for temp work in New York, struggles just to get an off-Broadway audition. Sidney Poitier, after two dozen movies, still yearns for something that seems completely unattainable: a good role. And 20th Century Fox, on the brink of financial catastrophe, puts all its hopes in a genre--the family musical--that will revitalize the company and then nearly destroy it again. Pictures at a Revolution tracks five movies--the milestones Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, the popular hits Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and In the Heat of the Night, and the big-budget disaster Doctor Dolittle--on their five-year journey to Oscar night in the spring of 1968. It follows their fortunes through the last days of the studio system and the first sparks of a cultural upheaval that would launch maverick new stars and directors, topple more than one industry titan from his pedestal, and redefine what American movies could be. In 1967, moviegoers witnessed the arrival of taboo-shattering sex and violence on screen, the debuts of Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway, the return of Katharine Hepburn and the poignant farewell of Spencer Tracy, the audacious risks taken by Warren Beatty, Arthur Penn, Mike Nichols and Norman Jewison, and Hollywood's agonized attempt to grapple with an incendiary moment in American race relations, with results that would change Sidney Poitier's career forever. By tracing the gambles, the stumbles, the clashes and the creative partnerships that produced these films, Mark Harris captures both the twilight of old Hollywood and the dawn of a new golden age in studio film making. Based on unprecedented access to the actors, directors, screenwriters, producers and executives whose movies defined the era, as well a wealth of previously unexplored archival material, Pictures at a Revolution is an utterly original, revealing, and entertaining history of a true cultural watershed.
With The Southpaw, novelist Mark Harris begins the remarkable saga of a gifted baseball pitcher named Henry W. Wiggen, which would unfold in four novels over the course of some 27 years between the publication of The Southpaw (1952) and It Looked Like For Ever (1979). Harris frames The Southpaw in an irresistible way, letting the fictional hero Wiggen "tell" his own story in the vernacular--bad grammar, run-on sentences, the works. In fact, the title page tells the reader that The Southpaw is "by Henry W. Wiggen / Punctuation freely inserted and spelling greatly improved by Mark Harris." Henry Wiggen is a beautiful athlete, but despite his talents and his natural grace, the unpretentious small-town boy reaches manhood by the same arduous route followed by most boys, complicated in his case by that very talent and grace, and the expectations they create in everyone. Wiggen is that rarest of fiction heroes, a certifiable good guy, without guile, who wants always to do the right thing. Even for him, the challenges posed by personal and professional needs sometimes seem to be too much, as the stakes in his career steadily rise. The Southpaw follows Wiggen from his early days all the way to the World Series, a winning story of a good man living an extraordinary life. "By far the best 'serious' baseball novel published," the San Francisco Chronicle wrote of The Southpaw--a critical response that is frequently echoed in discussions of all four of Mark Harris' novels about Henry Wiggen. The Southpaw defines Wiggen, and Harris wields his vivid, stream of conscious style with wizardly skill. The acid test is whether the experience of The Southpaw encourages the reader to follow Wiggen's saga in Bang the Drum Slowly. Invariably, it does.
Originally written in 1959, this is the hilariously explosive account of Youngdahl, a novelist, playwright, ex-Mormon, and father of seven. He is a frenzied man who is beginning a letter-writing campaign to escape his curiously ironic situation, and of course, his profession. Along with Abner Klang, his not-so-literary agent who seems to have misplaced the "f" key on his typewriter, Youngdahl joins forces with a Mormon bishop, a TV adapter, and a prizefighter, among others, to spearhead a comic revolution.
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