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Why Gatsby Will Always Elude Film

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Why Gatsby Will Always Elude Film

We all saw Coppola’s effort to capture The Great Gatsby with Redford and Mia Farrow mooning after each other in seventies grandeur. Great clothing. Great cars. Great music. Terrible movie. And yet here was Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, but of course Coppola’s problem was he was too in love with the novel. He tried to interject Fitzgerald’s prose wherever he could and it was like laying silk on charcoal. “Cant repeat the past, of course you can old sport!’ Redford choked on that one.
And if the characters didn’t choke on the prose then the narrator did. “I have been turning over some advice my father gave me once….” The stertorous Nick Caraway years before he was a TD Waterhouse mouthpiece just couldn’t handle those lines without dropping them like lead into the Long Island Sound. And why shouldn’t he? Voice overs are tricky anyway and literary voice overs feel like syrup dribbled all over perfectly good scenes. Scream when the metaphors become too much.
But metaphor was Fitzgerald’s gift and that elegiac elegant prose does not translate to the eye or the ear. It was meant to be read. Sadly for DiCaprio and everyone else involved in the new attempt to bring Gatsby to the twenty first century they will only succeed in sending people to find the book. And even if they update the story will not translate. The intelligence of Fitzgerald and any first rate novelist is they understand the keening of a read line of prose and its impress on human consciousness. No amount of CG will ever bail out a visual medium in this area.
And so we will be left with the plot without the fine linen. And so, we will beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaseless to the novel. And not the film.

Gatsbys American Dream

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Gatsbys American Dream

With the new movie almost out it is fitting to reflect on the American Dream once again as put forth by Jay Gatsby. I assume you read the book and know Gatsby’s story of bootlegger turned landed gentry and ready to secure the girl of his dreams Daisy Buchanan. Ah the green light at the end of the dock that means so much. Gatsby’s dream. The American dream. That beacon in the Long Island night that represents all we want but cannot obtain.
And of course Gatsby is done in by the darkness of the American Dream. It is the price right? We know now the high price of the dream because we have been living it for the last five years. Only a few can hit such heights and those that do usually lose some part of themselves as Gatsby did. Fitzgerald put forth the idea that this dream comes with too high a price and in fact it can kill you which of course it did with Gatsby.
And we are  now at a point where the American dream has turned upside down. Our houses worth less than we owe, jobs still scarce, money not abundant. And we are looking now for something we might have missed and left behind us. And of course there is nothing new as Fitzgerald says at the end of Gatsby in the most eloquent line in American literature. “So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.”
Still so true.

Rocket Man Review by Author Philip Spires: Superb

Posted by on Apr 25, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Rocket Man Review by Author Philip Spires: Superb

Rocket Man by William Hazelgrove is not a good novel: it is unequivocally a great one. Many writers attempt to portray contemporary society, mixing social comment and empathetic life stories with expressions and interpretations of culture, but few succeed. Often the result is an admixture of what the writer wants to say carried on a vehicle of plot too flimsy to carry it, or a merely impressionistic view of events devoid of significance. In the case of Rocket Man, William Hazelgrove’s portrayal of contemporary society is so convincing, so perfectly apposite that the reader almost becomes a participant. The author mixes tragedy and humour, wit and literary invention, observation and opinion, reality and farce into a completely seamless portrayal of competitive suburbia, where battles can be fought across driveways, as ongoing wars are pursued in the lounge. Domestic reality becomes fiction, but presents a picture that is almost more real than fact. Rocket Man is thus an almost complete literary achievement.
Dale Hammer is himself a novelist. His books, once critically acclaimed, he tells us, have fallen from fashion and are now also largely out of print. Their existence can be traced to thumbed copies on Dale’s shelves and via increasingly oblique references on the internet, where they lie in lists, second hand and largely unwanted. Dale devotes himself full time to writing, but nothing new has emerged from his disaster area of a study for some time and even those who were once enthusiastic about his work have now either forgotten it or grown old enough now to worry only about themselves.
Dale is forty-six and is married to Wendy. Like all Americans, he has his dream, as Wendy has hers. They have two children and do not always see eye-to-eye. Dale Junior is ten, and Angela, five. Dale Junior likes his sports and his Boy Scouts, but seems to do less well at school than he or his parents would like. Angela usually has her own way, but reality often interrupts the dream, it seems. Wendy sometimes seems rather oblivious to crises and seems to defer to her husband whenever possible, especially when she is looking for someone to blame. Dale, however, usually lacks competence, despite his apparently limitless faith in his own abilities, abilities that others often find hard to recognise. Though he tries hard, he is often ever so slightly misdirected by himself and thus accomplishes things he did not quite intend, usually to his detriment.
The title refers to Dale’s adopted responsibility to act the role of chief launcher of the traditional rockets at an upcoming Boy Scout jamboree. It’s a major social event in Charleston’s suburbia, as it nestles newly-developed and mock-rurally near Chicago. And Rocket Man is a role that commands respect, and thus demands competence. Thus there are doubts, not least within Dale himself, as to whether this year’s choice of operative is quite up to the task.
Dale and Wendy are really city types, used to Oak Park, an area that has its share of problems, safety-issues, drug use, poor schools and the like. As an inner city, it’s as stereotypical as Charleston might pretend to the suburban, the latter boasting exaggerated safety, smart cars and overtly expressed community that is really a skin around a scrum of individual competition. Wendy in particular wanted the move, preferring something more substantial now that the kids were growing up, something more respectable, perhaps, now that she and Dale had achieved middle age, a term they themselves probably shunned until its sheer inevitability finally demanded acceptance. Overall, the suburbs offered a salubrious safety, a state that Wendy came to desire, a state that years ago she had rejected when she married Dale, believing that life with him would never be dull. So off to Charleston they went, to a big house with a big mortgage, an aging SUV and neighbours who at least appear to claim greater stability than the Hammers. Dale was to write full time, while Wendy pursued her own work. To make ends meet, or at least to bring them a little closer, Dale took up brokering on commission. This meant dealing with the public.
Dale’s father turns up. He has been thrown out again. He has also lost his job. Dale Senior seems almost to have walked straight out of John Updike, and rabbits around the single lady across the road, as his Jaguar is repossessed. The other son, Elliott and his African American wife appear, sincerely concerned about dad now having to live over a garage. They, as academics, have more space and comfort. Dale’s in-laws also visit, and open war breaks out as attitudes and assumptions clash, but only as a result of the best of intentions, which really are just euphemisms for self-interest.
So what is so special about Rocket Man that merits such high praise? The answer to that is nothing. Like all great achievements, Rocket Man raises the mundane to the special by encouraging us to participate. These characters could pontificate about the state of the economy, about contemporary values, about the nature of society, but they don’t have to because they are alive, and we, for a while, live alongside them, sharing their concerns, concerning ourselves with them. We thus become participants in their lives and the experience is so real that we, ourselves, experience the issues that affect them. The result is a riveting and enlightening read. It owes much to Updike, with the raw sex replaced by liberal helpings of wit, humour and irony. Rocket Man is without a shadow of doubt a masterpiece of modern literature and deserves to fly very high indeed.

Radio Show July 27th Asswift Radio

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Radio Show July 27th Asswift Radio

William Hazelgrove booked to talk about his book Rocket Man…the American Dream upside down…Aswift radio one PM. July 27th

Subscribe and Receive Hemingway’s Attic: The Writers Surival Manual for Free!

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Subscribe and Receive Hemingway’s Attic: The Writers Surival Manual for Free!

If you subscribe to I will send you free of charge “Hemingway’s Attic- The Writers Survival Manual.  My 95 page Writers  Survival Manual covers getting the first pages down to the philosophy of the writer and how to keep going after rejection. I wrote this when I realized there was no book on how to survive as a writer. It is a compilation of writing rules and good old common sense and a lot of tips on how to keep eating while writing. It is a PDF and it is yours just for subscribing to

Interview with Eye on Books (radio) Rocket Man

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Interview with Eye on Books (radio) Rocket Man

Thirty minute interview with Eye on Books Rocket Man….Listen in


Discussion of Rocket Man and the upside down American Dream where one in four homes are worth less than people owe.

Radio Interview 4/23/2013

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Radio Interview 4/23/2013

89.5 Chicago Public Radio  4.20 central time. Rocket Man interview. Discussion of the American Dream Turned Upside Down with one in our four mortgages underwater.