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Lightweight, amusing memoir by a well-known Hollywood literary agent. ""Swanie,"" as his friends call him, started out as a book-hungry boy in the cornfields of Iowa, reveling in the words of writers fortunate enough to be ""sprinkled with ruby dust."" Soon after college (where he hung out with ""a long stringbean of a fellow from Montana named Gary Cooper""), Swanson began publishing these writers himself. He founded and edited College Humor magazine, a smash sensation at the time, with material by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Benchley, Noel Coward, and others. Always enterprising, Swanson wound up in Hollywood as a film producer, then as an agent for Hollywood writers. He discovered ""a white-facted, bizarre-looking creature"" named Cornell Wool-rich; suggested to F. Scott that he retitle Trimalchio of West Egg as The Great Gatsby; lent William Randolph Hearst a dollar to pay a cab fare; gave Ginger Rogers her first starring role; watched a plastered William Faulkner take imaginary potshots at Union soldiers from his balcony. Lots of drunken schoolboy antics here, with Swanson a bemused observer. Never have so many famous people seemed so immature. Many of the anecdotes--and there's really nothing here but anecdotes--sparkle, although Swanson falls back occasionally on clich‚ (""it was really a time of wine and roses""). A witty, laudatory introduction by Elmore Leonard (one of Swanson's clients) loses some of its impact after reading Swanson's backslapping chapter on Leonard. That's the big problem with this enjoyable book--Swanson tells so many good-natured tales about chums, this winds up reading like an in-house frat publication. Should sell like crazy in Palm Springs, though.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1989
Publisher: Warner