Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book: Jack London in Paradise, by Paul Malmont (2009)

The first 2009 title I’ve read, and it’s a good one.

Paul Malmont’s debut The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, in which several legends of pulp fiction find themselves caught up in a plot they could have devised, is one of my favorite novels of recent years. His follow-up also involves real-life figures but in a less fantastical tale.

Hobart Bosworth is largely forgotten now, but this contemporary of D. W. Griffith was a big name in the early days of Hollywood. In 1915, however, he finds himself at the end of his tether, verging on bankruptcy and about to lose his company to partner Adolph Zukor and the nascent Paramount Pictures. But Bosworth, famed for his adaptations of the hugely popular works of author Jack London, has a plan: to persuade London to write an original screenplay. Step one is to track London down. Step two is to save him from himself.

Once Bosworth locates London in Hawaii, the paradise of the title, the story meanders somewhat. But Malmont’s bracing descriptions of the landscape, physical action, London’s tumultuous marriage, and two men facing different kinds of crises more than compensate, and the various threads coalesce into a potent ending. Malmont is a name to watch.

Meaningless Milestones: Post M

This is the 1,000th post I’ve written for this site. Reaching the four figure mark in a little under five years isn’t that impressive compared to the output of the bloggers I emulate and frequently rip off, like Ed, Bill and Ivan, but it’s not bad, either.