As an actor Stephen Jared has appeared in numerous feature films and television series, as well as commercials for both radio and television. His writings, including articles and interviews, have appeared in various publications. In 2010, he self-published an adventure novel titled Jack and the Jungle Lion to much critical praise, including an honorable mention in the 2011 Hollywood Book Festival. His second novel, Ten-A-Week Steale, has been picked up by Solstice Publishing and is scheduled for release in 2012. He lives in Pasadena, California.
I loved this book. The author is obviously a fan of classic Hollywood, as am I, and really manages to capture the spirit of the romantic adventures of the 30s and 40s. I'll admit that I purchased this book largely because I loved the cover (reminded me of the old movie posters for films like "Gunga Din" or "King Solomon's Mines"), and have always been a fan of the dime novel adventures. I was actually surprised to discover that it was recently written. I enjoyed the author's breezy and engaging writing style, and found it difficult to put down. Would make a great movie!
Imagine Cary Grant -- no, Archie Leach, the man behind the actor's persona -- propelled into an international escapade filled with all the daring-do, romance, and snappy patter of his best early films...while everyone around him expects, even demands, that he behave like his heroic, silver-screen alter-ego. That's "Jack and The Jungle Lion's" jumping off point, though it quickly tumbles off waterfalls, crashes airplanes, and braves spear-stabbing warriors in a quasi-Indiana Jones fashion, owing as much to the cinema of homage than of memory.
The author delivers swift, readable prose with the occasional literary flourish -- enough to intrigue and yet never intrude. His memorable characters recall numerous figures from Hollywood's Golden Age, and it isn't hard for a movie buff to conjure analogies to favorite bygone stars, some real (from history and biography), and some imagined (those concocted by the Studio press corps.) Much of "Jack's" fun is casting the movie in your mind as you read.
My solitary complaint is that "Jack" seems a little thin at 122 pages, though much of that is due to the book's rapid pace and exceedingly small print...or maybe I just didn't want it to end.
Give it a whirl. And when modern Hollywood gets tired of remakes and gimmicks, maybe they'll take a look at adapting something with a little panache and a classic spirit of adventure.
Reading Jack and the Jungle Lion is like being on a Hollywood movie set watching the making of a silent film. How Jared creates that feeling of being in on the action without quite being of it, defies analysis. Best sit back and enjoy the ride. Everything is simultaneously real and unreal--the jungle, the headhunters, the melodramatic romance between a film star and a spunky common girl. The girl's at the stake, the poison arrows are flying. How will they get out? Suspense reigns. Jack Hunter is called upon to live up to his movie-man namesake of Action Jack in real life. Can he do it? Looks doubtful. 'Ensuing scenes involve a hilarious food fight and an attack on that poor common girl from the jungle by Jack's acid-tongued wife, who displays a temperament more vicious than any headhunter's. Boy gets girl after a long, hard chase. Boy loses girl. Will he get her back? It wouldn't be Hollywood without a Hollywood ending, and thanks to the kids--oh, did I fail to mention the kids? Yeah, the movie has them, too--anyway, thanks to the kids, we reach the (thank goodness) inevitable conclusion. Finding out how we get from crisis to salvation is more fun than a barrel of white-faced capuchin monkeys. Oh, did I fail to mention there's one of those, too? Probably a lot of things I failed to mention. Read it and find them for yours.
Here's a debut novel that will knock your socks off. Jack and the Jungle Lion opens in Hollywood in 1937. It's about a film actor named Jack Hunter who is cut from the same cloth as Tyrone Power, Clark Gable or Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. In route to a location shoot his plane crashes and Hunter finds himself trapped in the Amazon rainforest with animal trainer Maxine Daniels and her two children, as well as the irascible co-pilot, Clancy. Surviving is not going to be easy and Hunter needs to become the hero he's played on screen in order to get home safely. But can he handle the role?
In sixteen chapters author Stephen Jared takes readers on a whirlwind adventure. The pacing is spot-on, the characters believable and endearing, the action jumping off the page. Jared is a superb writer. This book is being advertised as "A romance of adventure" and truer advertising has never been written. Jack and the Jungle Lion is not only reminiscent of the classic pulp stories from the 30s and 40s, but also of those grand movie adventures during Hollywood's heyday. Jack Hunter is put through the ringer - poison stick pits, anacondas, malevolent natives - but all of that is a mere trifle when Jack returns to Hollywood and his wife. You'll have to read the book to see how it all plays out.
Jack and the Jungle Lion is chock full of action, humor, adventure and romance. Stephen Jared has just staked his claim as a pre-eminent voice in the growing legion of writers producing retro style adventures, just the way you want them. Jack and the Jungle Lion is a topnotch entertainment. And yes, it would make a great movie!
NOTE: the book's beautiful cover artwork is by Paul Shipper.
If you love old Hollywood movies, this is the perfect read for you. A wonderful balance of adventure, comedy and romance. This author's writing style would translate into a fabulous movie script. I would love to see it all come to life on the big screen!