Friday, August 19

Grumpy Review: The Successful Novelist by David Morrell

This book came highly recommended by the trusted strangers who review books on Amazon. But one CD* into the book I was like “Okay, yeah, that’s fine – but I don’t care that you wrote Rambo!” 

An inspiring literary figure.

Let me clarify. This guy, David Morrell, wrote the book First Blood which was later turned into the Rambo movie franchise. That qualifies him as a successful novelist, sure. But besides all the trite advice (Write things you like to write / Don’t be in this for the money / perseverance is key, you lazy bastard and such); the only image that stuck with me was from an anecdote meant to illustrate how HARD poor David Morrell had to work to get himself through college. He worked the night shift in some sort of death-and-torture factory that made car fenders and killed dreams.

He worked at this incredibly dangerous machine which was some sort of fender-presser – he’d have to put a metal sheet into the machine, then his hands (which were tied to a safety chain) would be yanked up away from the machine as the metal was pressed into shape. Imagine your job entailed being forced to do mini-Mexican Wave every 2 minutes. I’m guessing the novelty wears off pretty quick.

So David Morrell, being the sensitive literature-obsessed soul behind Rambo, was obviously friends with the equally sensitive and literature-loving factory manager, so they’d hang out and talk about Milton and Keats and shit like that. Eventually, (I assume to further his plan to make sweet love to David Morrell,) the factory manager called him up from the factory floor and announced that he’d be moved to a less dangerous job. I assume the factory manager brushed a stray hair from David Morrell’s face as he said this, but the account doesn’t specify.

Another worker (let’s call him Handless Hank – you’ll see why in a minute) was moved to Morrell’s job, and I assume Morrell himself took a less demanding position which involved him feeding grapes to the factory manager. A few hours later, the safety chain on the Mexican Wave of Death Machine failed, and Hank, Morrell’s replacement, lost both his hands.

David Morrell doesn’t even comment on this grim event, preferring it stand alone as a testament that God loves him and his beautiful prose-typing fingers more than Handless Hank. We swiftly move on to David Morrell writing his first novel in college and talking about his father issues, which – shockingly – appear in his work as male authority figures being blah blah blah WHAT ABOUT HANDLESS HANK?

I can’t stop thinking about it – here’s this probably young, inexperienced guy (if he had to be promoted to the Death Machine, what the hell was he doing before? Janitorial duty on the Vomit Projection Testing Grounds?) who’s at this new job for a couple of hours, making minimum wage, forced to do the Mexican Wave every two minutes, just hoping to get through the day so he can go home and watch some porn on VHS, when BAM. No hands. Shock. Blood. Crunchy bones and dirty fingernails pressed into the newest fender. Has to live the rest of his life on disability pension and can’t even jerk off anymore.

And the only testament to this horrific accident is a mention in David Morrell’s unhelpful book as a ‘hey, lucky me, right?’ anecdote.

I don’t know if Handless Hank is still around, or if he’s happy, or has found a lovely independently wealthy girl who’s very good at pleasuring him sexually. Maybe he’s okay, but come on – odds are he’s not, and hasn’t been since that day.

And maybe the most unfair part of the whole situation is that the horror and the injustice of this single moment in his life makes for a more compelling story than fucking Rambo.

*Loot sent me an audiobook version of this book, when I’d ordered a softcover. But because I’m a passive consumer and I figured, hey, I don’t mind audiobooks, I left it… Oh My GAWD the reader’s voice turned out to be so annoying. If this were twitter, I’d insert the hashtag #MurphysLaw, but it’s not, so I won’t.


1 comment:

  1. Poor Handless Hank! David Morrell sounds really obnoxious. I bet the hair brushing incident really happened. OMG fanfic!


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