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Sammy Glick leaves New York...quickly, of course.

Nice simile here in What Makes Sammy Run?, as Al Manheim catches his last glimpse of Sammy Glick before the latter leaves New York for fame and fortune in Hollywood:

I watched Sammy walk out of the office that day, and then I stood at the window and watched his new shoes and his new hat cross the sidewalk and disappear into a taxi, and then I leaned out the window and watched the taxi go ducking in and out through traffic like a broken-field runner.

Like Sammy Glick, I thought, as I watched the cab at the next crossing jump out ahead of the car that should have had the right of way. There was a shrieking of brakes, a raw angry voice, and Sammy's cab was away, around the corner on two wheels, though I stayed at the window a long while starting at it.

Besides careening through life at reckless speeds, just like his cab, Sammy is always slighting and exploiting people who "should have the right of way." He'll do anything to get ahead, and nobody had better get in his way.

Almost from the start of the book I wondered how Schulberg would manage to have his narrator continue to tell the story of Sammy's whirlwind life even after the youngster leaves for Hollywood. But that was easily solved: after Sammy has been gone for about a year, Manheim catches the Hollywood bug himself (like so many other East Coast and Midwest journalists and writers of the time), quits his newspaper job and heads west for a screenwriting job with a movie studio. There he can continue to follow Sammy's intriguing life, being fascinated and repulsed at the same time - Sammy's life in New York was already audacious enough, but in Hollywood he kicks that up to an infinitely higher level.

February 9, 2009 in Books | Permalink