Screenwriter Freeman on the varied and so-so adventures of a screenwriter edging into middle age.
Henry Wearie, in his mid-30s, is quite well known in town and has been for years—he can go channel-surfing and have a good chance of stumbling on a snatch of his own dialogue (usually uncredited). But his most famous script is one he sold for a quarter million years ago yet was never produced, and although Henry is considered quite the competent script doctor or rewrite man, he’s definitely no Robert Towne. With his career stalled, he’s now also recently separated from his wife Madeline, and so when a producer “friend” of his starts squiring him around town, Henry begins thinking that he might be getting some heat. Somewhere along the way, though, Freeman (One of Us, 1997, etc.) lets his story drop off the edge of a cliff, and the reader is treated to a confused muddle of scenes following the ups-and-downs of Henry’s life: these include the way he meets his second wife, the new couple’s botched attempt at adoption, and Henry’s 34th birthday on a decadent film set in Mexico. Taken individually, these mini-booklets are well enough done and have the smart, non-showoffy quality of the true Hollywood insider, but they seem never quite to go anywhere, a feeling not helped by the chronological jumping around. Only in the final pages, when Henry takes his second wife to New York, do its many strands begin to resemble a proper story.
Excellent material and a fine eye don’t always make for a successful novel: this one needs a doctor.