Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How to Become a Complete Nonentity -- Richard Wormser

When I read about this book, I knew I had to have it, even though $12.95 (plus postage) seemed like a lot to pay for a slim 90-page memoir. The thing is, Richard Wormser is far from a nonentity in my book. He's the author of some fine Gold Medal novels, including Drive East on 66, A Nice Girl like You, and the Edgar-winning The Invader. The memoir was written years ago, and is just now seeing the light of publication, thanks to Ira Skutch, one of Wormser's nephews.

I was disappointed that the memoir says nothing at all about writing paperback originals, but Wormser also wrote for the pulps, the slicks, and the movies. He has more to say about those things, including some pretty funny stories, including this one: "Columbia Pictures wanted to buy one of [the stories] but they couldn't decide between one called 'The Frameup' and one called 'Right Guy.' After much coast-to-coast telegraphy, they bought 'Right Guy' and changed the name to 'The Frameup.'" Sounds like Hollywood hasn't changed a lot since the '30s.

Wormser has a straightforward writing style to go with his natural story-telling ability, and the memoir was fun to read. The anecdotes are consistently entertaining and amusing, and he mentions a lot of familiar names. I have to warn you that the book is an iUniverse production. There are a lot of typos, and Harry Cohn, whose name is spelled correctly on the back cover, is persistently referred to in the book as "Harry Cohen." Even at that,
I'm glad to have this book in my collection. Now I think I need to read one of Wormser's noves that I've never read before, and I happen to have one. It's a reprint of a hardcover called The Hanging Heiress. If I do read it, you'll see a report here eventually.

1 comment:

  1. Would be very interested to hear about THE HANGING HEIRESS, since I happen to have that book.

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