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What Makes Sammy Run? Paperback – December 6, 1993
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From the Inside Flap
What Makes Sammy Run?
Everyone of us knows someone who runs. He is one of the symp-toms of our times--from the little man who shoves you out of the way on the street to the go-getter who shoves you out of a job in the office to the Fuehrer who shoves you out of the world. And all of us have stopped to wonder, at some time or another, what it is that makes these people tick. What makes them run?
This is the question Schulberg has asked himself, and the answer is the first novel written with the indignation that only a young writer with talent and ideals could concentrate into a manuscript. It is the story of Sammy Glick, the man with a positive genius for being a heel, who runs through New York's East Side, through newspaper ranks and finally through Hollywood, leaving in his wake the wrecked careers of his associates; for this is his tragedy and his chief characteristic--his congenital incapacity for friendship.
An older and more experienced novelist might have tempered his story and, in so doing, destroyed one of its outstanding qualities. Compromise would mar the portrait of Sammy Glick. Schulberg has etched it in pure vitriol, and dissected his victim with a precision that is almost frightening.
When a fragment of this book appeared as a short story in a national magazine, Schulberg was surprised at the number of letters he received from people convinced they knew Sammy Glick's real name. But speculation as to his real identity would be utterly fruitless, for Sammy is a composite picture of a loud and spectacular minority bitterly resented by the many decent and sincere artists who are trying honestly to realize the measureless potentialities of motion pictures. Tothis group belongs Schulberg himself, who has not only worked as a screen writer since his graduation from Dartmouth College in 1936, but has spent his life, literally, in the heart of the motion-picture colony. In the course of finding out what makes Sammy run (an operation in which the reader is spared none of the grue-some details) Schulberg has poured out everything he has felt about that place. The result is a book which the publishers not only believe to be the most honest ever written about Hollywood, but a penetrating study of one kind of twentieth-century success that is peculiar to no single race of people or walk of life.
"From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Budd Schulberg wrote On the Waterfront, made into a movie starring Marlon Brando, and The Harder They Fall, made into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart. He won an Oscar for the screenplay of On the Waterfront several awards for his film A Face in the Crowd, and a Tony nomination for his Broadway adaptation of The Disenchanted. He attributed his ability to adapt his own work to stage or screen to his upbringing in Hollywood, where his father ran a major motion-picture studio. He died in 2009 at the age of 95.
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As a salesman who reads too many sales books, I really to spice up my reading list with a little fiction. This is a great story! I can relate to Al, as I have been steamrolled by many alpha males. It goes to show that people like Sammy have to reach an age where the next generation of steamrollers are coming of age and it's only a matter of time before they get a taste of their own medicine.
I liked this book so much I bought 'The Harder They Fall'!
"The first time I saw him he couldn't have been much more than sixteen years old, a little ferret of a kid, sharp and quick. Sammy Glick. Used to run copy for me. Always ran. Always looked thirsty."
Glick is larger-than-life in the same way Gatsby was, and Schulberg uses the first person narration of Al Menheim in a similar way to how Fitzgerald used Nick, with Menheim taking on the role of introspective observer to Sammy Glick's seemingly unstoppable rise to the top of Hollywood. I was a little disappointed that the last page didn't feature a clear cut answer to the book's recurring question: "What makes Sammy run?" But despite my disappointed the ending still offers a sizable payoff regarding the nature of ambition and human relationships, one that I will take with me even after the rest of the book has faded from my mind.
Of course I've just finished "Sammy," so I'll need some time to let it sink in, but I feel this book is destined to be added to my list great novels that say something definitive about a part of the human condition.
The Great Gatsby = the unattainability of fantasy
Fight Club = the emptiness of the safe corporate/factory life
A Separate Peace = the corruption of envy and the impermanence of innocence
What makes Sammy Run? = the emptiness of success when it comes at the cost of human relationships
Read this book.
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