Sammy Glick is a winner. Aggressive, ruthless, belligerently self-centred, “sprinting out of his mother’s womb, turning life into a race in which the only rules are fight for the rail and elbow on the turns.” Sammy storms his way out of the New York slums to reach the top of the Hollywood film world in the 1930s.
Sammy is a way of life, a way that was paying dividends in America’s Depression era and is paying dividends today. For the “Sammy-drive” is still to be found everywhere and will survive as long as money, prestige and power are ends in themselves.
Witty, clever, action-packed and acutely observed, this classic of American literature, which has sold over a million copies, is as compelling and revealing now as it was when first published in this country in 1941.
“The tone is akin to Raymond Chandler.” WALL STREET JOURNAL
A 1941 novel for Past Offences December meme and fair to say it’s a novel as opposed to a crime novel. (Click here to see what others have read.)
We observe Sammy Glicks’ rabid ambition and ruthlessness as he rises from copy boy to Hollywood big-shot, trampling over all in his path, through the eyes of his “friend” Al Manheim. Sammy doesn’t do friendship, but if he ever did Al’s the only one.
An interesting observation on Hollywood and the American dream played out to the nth degree. Probably the closest modern comparison, I could make would be Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
Naked feral ambition, lack of a social conscience and lacking totally in any empathy, compassion or consideration for his fellow man – what’s not to like about Sammy? Haha…. you don’t ever totally abhor him, in fact a sneaking admiration for his particular skill-set lingers.
Manheim banished from Hollywood after Sammy double-crosses the fledgling writer’s guild eventually discovers the roots of Sammy’s raison d’etre and “what makes him run” in an uncovering of a poverty stricken childhood in a Jewish slum in New York.
Eventually Sammy meets his match, when he encounters someone who can run faster than himself.
I thought unconsciously, I had been waiting for justice suddenly to rise up and smite him in all its vengeance, secretly hoping to be around when Sammy got what was coming to him; only I had expected something conclusive and fatal and now I realised what was coming to him was not a sudden pay-off but a process, a disease he had caught in the epidemic that swept over his birthplace like plague; a cancer that was slowly eating him away, the symptoms developing and intensifying: success, loneliness, fear. Fear of all the bright young men, the newer, fresher Sammy Glick’s that would spring up to harass him, to threaten him and finally to overtake him..........