Friday, May 02, 2008

Forgotten Books, or the Resurrection of the Non-Oprah Book Club

Patti Abbott, mother of recent Edgar Award winner Megan Abbott, (congrats!), has started an around the blogosphere friday project that asks bloggers to write about a favorite book that has been lost to the general public. Make that reading public, because the average man on the street couldn't even recall The Great Gatsby. So, I thought I'd chip in, and in doing so, bring back a long forgotten idea I had for this blog, which I called the Non-Oprah Book Club. I'm sure you all remember it and the two books I recommended. By the way, did you like those past recommendations?

Anyway, on to today's forgotten book: The Temple of Gold by William Goldman. If you recognize the author's name, then congratulations, you haven't had your head up your ass for the past forty years. Yes, this Goldman is the same guy who wrote Marathon Man, Magic and The Princess Bride. But beyond that, he is also the Godfather of screenwriters having won two Oscars for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men; as well as adapting The Stepford Wives (the good one with Katherine Ross), Misery and The Hot Rock. In his published scolding of Hollywood, Adventures in the Screen Trade, he famously wrote the often quoted axiam of Hollywood, "Nobody knows anything."

While Goldman's name will continue on, especially in its attachement to The Princess Bride (Goldman has written that the only reason he'll have an obit in the The New York Times is because of Butch and Sundance, but I think his work of Princess Buttercup and her Wesley will overshadow the outlaws); however, The Temple of Gold has already been lost from neglect from the reading public in general and literary snobs who refuse to believe that the author of Marathon Man (a secret favorite of dentists everywhere) could write something that deserves their attention. It's a shame on both counts. This coming-of-age novel is usually only referred to as Goldman's first book without any acknowledgement on how well written it is. When it was published in 1957, some critics mentioned the book in the same league as Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye; and personally I agree. It is a story of an unfocused character confronted with the devestsating consequences of his reckless actions. To say anymore would spoil the book for its reader. Highly recommended.

My father was a stuffy man.

That is not meant as criticism but rather to be the truth. It is the word that best fit him. Stuffy. He always wore dark suits and ugly ties, and was forever pursing his lips and wrinkling up his forehead before he said anything. “Is that you?” my mother would call when he came home. Then he’d purse his lips and there would go his forehead and after a while he’d say: “Yes, my dear.” He always called her that—“my dear”; never her real name, which was Katherine. And I was always Raymond.

It’s easiest to begin with my father rather than my mother or Grandmother Rae for the simple reason that I knew less about him than the others. We lived side by side in the same house for many years, but I never really got to know him. That again isn’t meant to be criticism; it was just the way things worked out.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Steve. The list of books I have to read grow.

Josephine Damian said...

Steve: In my screenwriting days, the BUTCH screenplay was used as a teaching device, and ADVENTURES was one of our textbooks. With those stellar screenwriting credits, I admit to having overlooked his novels.

Thanks for lighting a fire under me. I'm adding this to the TBR pile.

angie said...

This sounds like a great read! And I have to confess that while I know Goldman's a screenwriter, I'll always love him best for Princess Bride.

"My name is Inago Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Terrie Farley Moran said...


My adult son quotes that constantly for absolutely no reason!