Imus in the Morning, Lenny Bruce at Night

 

By Jack Engelhard

After a draught of some months, I finally got the Cable people to hook me up with Don Imus’s radio program that also appears on TV. What a relief! It’s good to hear all that irreverence and smack amid all the sanctimonious chatter now that we’re deep in the heart of yet another political season.

Here’s what I like about Imus…he tolerates no smugness. Reminds me of Lenny Bruce back when real people ruled the earth.

Today every man is certain of his views and there are no discussions, only dogmas and orthodoxies. People shout at one another. Nobody listens. Liberals especially come boxed and petrified within an agenda. They have the answer to everything. Conservatives aren’t perfect, either.

But Liberals inherited their Liberalism from their fathers and grandfathers of the 1960s and today practice their culture and politics with a vengeance.

This is Liberalism on steroids.

Back then (in the 1960s) we didn’t have answers. We had questions. We were a generation of iconoclasts. We worshipped no idols; neither Left nor Right. We had no fixed positions and we were open to all points of view, especially there at the Hip Bagel over coffee in Greenwich Village. Lenny Bruce showed up regularly as did Mort Sahl and Allen Ginsberg.

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Pacino’s Shylock — An Offer He Can’t Refuse

By Jack Engelhard

 

The hottest ticket for the upcoming season on Broadway is Al Pacino (again!) as Shylock in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” Pacino, at 70, appears to be making Shylock his career at a time when hate crimes against Jews scale in at 65 percent – higher, by the way, than any other group. (Seven percent against American Muslims.)

 

We can only wonder why Pacino is so drawn to this play that is clearly the most anti-Semitic in all literature. Even Harold Bloom cites “Merchant” as “The lasting harm done by Shakespeare.” This play, in fact, has nurtured a blood libel so vast that blame for the Holocaust can be shared by Hitler together with Shakespeare.

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Writers Should Stay Home

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Once, yes, I did give in. I went on the Today Show and was interviewed by Matt Lauer. That’s when Indecent Proposal first came out. First my novel, then the Paramount movie.  When I watched the replay I kept referring to myself as “That guy.” As in, “Who is that guy and what is he talking about?” I wondered why “he” had no eyebrows. Was it the lighting? I came in with eyebrows!

 

Why is “he” not more glib? He is awfully glib at home. Where is the wit? Where is the wisdom? Where is the charm? I had it when I left the house.

 

My agent at the time and all the rest them said I did “beautifully.” What they meant was – I did not make a COMPLETE fool of myself and that makes it “beautiful.”

 

I mean it – writers should stay home. We have no business going out there to market. That’s why God invented salesmen. That’s why we write. So we won’t have to sell. It’s called – or used to be called – the gift of gab. We should have it for the typewriter, but not for the camera or the microphone. Most of us – novelists – are grumpy and moody and that’s no way to make a sale.

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John W. Cassell on Indecent Proposal

What follows is a review of my novel Indecent Proposal, which has recently been re-issued by iUniverse. The novel was orignally published in 1988 by Donald I. Fine. It was then republished in 1993 by Pocket Books as a movie-tie, to coincide with the Paramount movie of the same name featuring Robert Redford and Demi Moore; based on my novel. The movie was huge, taking in $266 million box office internationally. The novel was translated into more than 22 languages. ComteQ Publishing then published a third edition — and now, here’s the iUniverse edition with a new cover and new intro. [This now is the only authentic version] But the novel is the same, same as I wrote it back in the mid-1980s on a kitchen table, sweat pouring down for the lack of air-conditioning. Next thing I knew translations of it were coming fast and furious from all over the world, and there we were walking the red carpet in Hollywood. Between takes in Vegas, Robert Redford said, “You wrote the novel?” I pleaded guilty. “Nice job,” he said.

Redford also said, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel.” I told him to stick to his day job. He was doing all right as an actor.

So what follows are the words of John W. Cassell. I’ll take tributes like this any day, from a writer of such high stature. Read HIS books! 

Jack Engelhard

 

 I was very pleased to discover that Jack Engelhard is re-releasing his Leviathan INDECENT PROPOSAL on iUniverse.  It should be “up” on amazon within the next few days. [Ed Note: The iUniverse edition, published July 9, 2010, is now up and available at Amazon]

 

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Reflections On JD Salinger

By Jack Engelhard

[I wrote and posted this reflection on Salinger back in August on my blog at Amazon. Except for the news that was current at that time, the rest of this piece holds true for me, as, I’m sure, it holds true for so many other readers and writers who loved Salinger, and are today so saddened by word of his passing. A writer like this comes around only once in a lifetime, Thank you — JE]

Salinger can’t hear? That’s hard to take.

Do we really need to know that JD Salinger “is now totally deaf?” That’s a quote being attributed to someone who knows him.

As a novelist who names Salinger as one of his literary heroes, I can say what strangeness it is to blurt out such news. I don’t doubt the truth of this revelation, but I do wonder why it got out from his gatekeepers. They must have known it would make headlines – and not in a good way. Already there are parodies of his aging (he’s 90) and headlines that term him “frail and deaf.” (Shades of Howard Hughes?) I hope we’re not gloating.

This is a man, Salinger, who’s kept himself fiercely reclusive for an entire generation – and there is no counting the number of writers who owe him allegiance. Along with Whitman, Twain and Hemingway, Salinger liberated American literature. I don’t think I could have written “The Girls of Cincinnati” without getting Salinger’s permission.

Salinger did not influence me, but he did inspire me.

(Novelists tend to be influenced by their forefathers at the start but eventually they have to let go and go it alone.)

We know almost nothing about Salinger except for the writing. That’s been the deal. Salinger is all about the sanctity of the novel, which is why (through his lawyers) he went to court to stop publication and distribution of an alleged rip-off of “The Catcher in The Rye.” Salinger’s argument has always been that his writings do the talking. That is all we need to know about him.

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JACK ENGELHARD’S “SLOT ATTENDANT”

By John W. Cassell

My copy of Jack Engelhard’s SLOT ATTENDANT came this afternoon.  As I was reading another truly engrossing novel at the time and NEVER read more than one book at a time, I set myself the modest goal of reading chapter one today, then finishing the other book tomorrow, thereafter reading this long-eagerly anticipated story solely until completion.

You know what happens to the “best laid plans….”  Likely you do in Gaelic as well as English.

What happens is, here it is almost 2AM and I just finished SLOT ATTENDANT.  I could NOT put it down.  I could not stop until I knew as much as the author cared to tell me about every absorbing subplot, as well as learning heaps about both casinos, in which I have a certain rooting interest, and the world of writing and publishing…a world so important to me and many people I deeply care about…. not until I learned the outcome of protagonist Jay Leonard’s desperate battle to regain both confidence in and respect for himself.

Having lost both myself once upon a time, I found myself quickly empathizing with his brilliantly orchestrated struggle.  I FELT for this man…Jack Engelhard is that kind of writer…superlatively combining personal experience, the experience of others, and a truly vivid, thoroughly grounded imagination to paint this compelling portrait.

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