PRAYING FOR RAIN by Jerome Weidman


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A warmhearted memoir by the man to whom Hemingway once wrote, ""you can write just a little bit better than anybody else that's around."" After more than 30 books of fiction and non-fiction, two blockbuster Broadway musicals and several movie scripts, Weidman continues to display the qualities ""Poppa"" admired: precision and economy of expression, pungent humor, an eye for the telling detail and a flawless ear for the rhythms of urban speech. Weidman tells the story of his New York City childhood and his phenomenal early success (his first best-selling novel, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, was published when he was 24; this volume concludes with the production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fiorello! when he was 46) in a series of endearing vignettes. Readers are unlikely to forget Dr. J. Morris Slutzky, whose pearl gray fedora ""sat on his head as precisely as the turbans worn by Queen Mary."" Then, there is Monroe Geschwind with his love of tongue sandwiches, DeWitt Clinton High School and literature. These portraits are as memorable as those Weidman draws of such luminaries as Somerset Maugham, Walter Winchell, John O'Hara, Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett--all Weidman familiars. His own self-portrait comes across just as effectively. He is neither self-deprecating nor overly boastful in recounting his substantial successes. He is a man at ease with himself and with the world around him, viewing both with a certain detached amusement, obviously aware of his own foibles as well as those of the ""somebodies"" and ""nobodies"" who have crossed his path. One of the most surprising incidents in the book is a description of how, during the late 1930's, a group of Jewish Hollywood producers attempted to have Weidman's publisher remove I Can Get It For You Wholesale from circulation on the grounds it was ""anti-Semitic."" To Weidman's eternal credit, he rebelled, stating that book-burning might take place in Nazi Germany but was totally inappropriate in America. A welcome and highly entertaining picture of American literary history and horseplay during the past half-century. As satisfying a literary reminiscence as has come along in many a year.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row