THE BEST OF INTENTIONS And Other Stories by Artie Shaw


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Here, Shaw, once a jazz clarinetist and band leader (a band with his name still travels), offers a second collection of six stories (I Love You, I Hate You, Drop Dead!, 1965), largely quaint, good-humored takes on music and Hollywood. The best is ""The Fabulous Courtship of Eddie Kubak,"" about a man who sells his deli and goes off to Hollywood to meet and elope with Bette Davis. It has a delightful easy touch, absurd in the manner of (but more good-natured than) Bruce Jay Friedman. ""Snow White in Harlem, 1930,"" about Al Snow, a musician in Harlem who hears a great piano) through a window and eventually discovers Bob and Sherry's Begonia Club, nicely chronicles the brotherhood of musicians (through rose-colored glasses). The leisurely ""A Nice Little Post-War Business"" takes place on a ship in WW II: two musicians talk on deck in a storm about their ambitions and watch a cellophane ball, betting on whether it will wash overboard. ""Let George Do It"" is a slight account of a sick man who moves to the country, buys a farm and a .22 and eventually kills a pheasant. ""A Stolen Story"" concerns a narrator in a rented apartment (""Hollywood is a tough place to write a book"") who tells (in a parody of hard-boiled prose) a long. casual secondhand tale about Hollywood and its types. The title story, a long shaggy-dog story, reads like a softhearted take on Nelson Algren: a thief takes Buddy Ross' watch and, after a ""who's on first"" routine between Buddy and the thief, rendered in the urban dialect of the old pulp magazines, agrees to meet Buddy and sell him back the watch. The story is overlong, but finishes powerfully: cops kill the thief as he chokes the man after a darkly rendered, climactic bar-room scene. Though Shaw's style can be dated (and even ridiculous) at times, his prose has the jazzy rhythms of his music, and a good time is had by all.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1989
Publisher: John Daniel