A Grand Guy The Art and Life of Terry Southern

Review From User :


I'd heard writer Terry Southern spoken of as an almost mythical character. Knowing nothing of what he'd actually done, I hoped to come away from this read with a deeper understanding of the writing craft. I have, but in a way that surprised me.
Either Terry Southern was a phenomenal talent whose value Lee Hill doesn't quite sell, or Terry Southern was an accomplished pretender and hanger-on whose total creative output amounted, in the end, to a puff of smoke.
After reading, I lean to the latter. Despite front-and-center visibility as a member of the beat generation, and friends who became the most famous creative artists of the day, Terry Southern never really did anything memorable himself - and for me doesn't warrant inclusion among the greats.
Yes, he did things with panache - I'll give him that. His semi-pornographic novel Candy sold well. He probably deserved more credit, too, than he ended up with for the creation of films like Easy Rider and Dr. Strangelove. He didn't get it. Kubrick did, and Fonda and Hopper, and that's the bottom line: Southern comes up short. In fact, A Grand Guy reads like a recap of a very long losing streak punctuated with a very emphatic period - fired from his job as writer on Saturday Night Live.
In truth, I liked Terry Southern more before I read this book, than now, but there is still a lesson to be learned here.
In Hollywood and New York, writers are lower than dirt. Necessary, yes, because the ideas and words needed to make good drama come from them, but the moment the creativity is sucked out - the movers and shakers have a story - the writer gets pushed out of the way and in the end is lucky to end up, like Terry Southern did on the cover of the Beatles album Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, as little more than another face in the crowd.
Art Tirrell is also just a face in the crowd. His 2007 novel, "The Secret Ever Keeps", contains "...simply the best underwater scenes I've ever read..." but has also been described as "...the best adventure story nobody ever heard of". http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1601...

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