This Week at The Great Gray Bridge

In the past week I’ve blogged about an urban skunk I encountered in Riverside Park;  a great new espionage novel called The Double Game by Dan Fesperman; the shameful lack of recognition for women in tech, as revealed by Change the Ratio’s Rachel Sklar; a well-deserved honor for Jim Tully: American Writer, Hollywood Brawler, Irish Rover, my fave biography of 2011; the lack of public transportation for wage-earners which means they often can’t get to jobs they would otherwise be able to fill; a new genetics study that may shed light on how the Americas were peopled in prehistoric times; a personal essay I’m contributing to a new book called Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology; Mitt Romney’s most secret offshore investment, Mitt and Ann’s Jet-Ski vacation, and a NY Times Editorial that hit Mitt. I also put up a guest post by my son Ewan Turner, a blended short story that fuses an actual incident from Bob Dylan’s career with an imagined episode involving the singer.

Over at The Great Gray Bridge tumblr, my site for quick hits and diverting photography, I put up a photo of Donald Trump that the Scots must find hilarious (h/t TPM and Zuma Press/Newscom and a post about the personal effects of lawman Eliot Ness, which have been put for auction.

An Honor for Jim Tully’s Biographers

I am very pleased for authors Paul Bauer and Mark Dawidziak that their biography Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, and Hollywood Brawler has won a Gold award  in Foreword Magazine‘s annual recognition of the best books of the past year. Winning books were selected by a panel of librarians and booksellers.

I had put the book on my best list for 2011, blogging about in a foundational post called Lost American Writer Found: Jim Tully and again after the authors gave a presentation at NYU last April when I posted A Book Talk on Jim  Tully. In the first post I wrote that the authors,

steep the reader in Tully’s lifelong struggle to make himself into a significant person; glimpsing his continual act of self-creation is what I found thrilling about this book. The authors chronicle how even in relatively prosperous years, he continued striving to create himself and forge his work. Family agonies–his son Alton served several jail terms for brutal assaults on women–sapped Tully’s energies and darkened many of his latter days. Sadly, he lived along enough to see his reputation and book sales decline, leaving him to ponder what kind of country no longer cared to read about the travails of its have-nots, even while America roared ahead into the second half of the century. I felt Tully’s sorrow as his reputation ebbed and editors no longer kept him in demand for assignments.

It’s a great book and along with the judges at Foreword Magazine, I recommend it highly.

You Can Help Make This Blog a Winner

I’ve entered The Great Gray Bridge in a contest sponsored by Goodreads. They will be selecting 4 top book blogs for special recognition and perks at Book Expo America (BEA) in June. Voting by the public began April 10 and continues through April 23. There will also be a juried element of the competition. I’ll be posting throughout the two weeks to remind folks, and sending out updates via Facebook and Twitter. I also have a handy widget on the right side of my blog just below “Foundational Posts” to vote for this site. In entering the contest, I submitted five entries representative of my books and publishing coverage.  The first one I cited was Lost American Writer Found–Jim Tully.  I’ll put others up as the contest continues. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and will vote for it. Thanks for your support.

A Book Talk about Jim Tully

I was delighted a few weeks ago when Paul Bauer and Mark Dawidziak, authors of Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, and Hollywood Brawler, my favorite biography of 2011, came to NYU to speak about their book at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House. I’d been in touch with Paul and Mark last November after I blogged about the book in a piece called Lost American Writer Found–Jim Tully and so was excited to attend their talk and meet them in person, especially because my artist wife Kyle Gallup and our actor and writer son Ewan, would be coming with me.

Paul and Mark gave a great talk, using photographs and film clips to anatomize the story of Tully’s life. Their book chronicles the life of the hobo writer-turned Hollywood insider who minted the hardboiled style of prose that would become even better known later on in the books of Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, and Dashiell Hammett. The pictures accompanying this post should give you some flavor of their talk. It was a treat meeting them afterward, and the next day, having Paul over to our apartment for tea and rugelach. He’s been a second-hand book dealer for many years and so it was great to not only talk about Tully, whose early book Circus Parade I’d been reading, but also to show Paul volumes from our library.

Last November I wrote this about their book, which I stand by today as my summing up of the authors’ visit to New York City.

“Biographers Bauer and Dawidziak steep the reader in Tully’s lifelong struggle to make himself into a significant person; glimpsing his continual act of self-creation is what I found thrilling about this book. The authors chronicle how even in relatively prosperous years, he continued striving to create himself and forge his work. . . . What’s great about the Tully bio–and other books like it that achieve this deep level of discourse with their subject’s life–is that the reader has a chance to assemble, in ways the biographer shows one how to do, how a literary career is lived and aspired toward, and achieved. The successful biography spans the decades and folds of a life, making the living subject comprehensible and one whom we understand. That’s what happened for me with Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler, and why this book will be on my best list for 2011.”

#Fridayreads/March 9–The Crisis of Zionism

#Fridayreads “The Crisis of Zionism,” Peter Beinart’s timely examination of Zionism in the world today, counterposing Barack Obama and Bibi Netanyahu. Eager to hear from Beinart (pictured here) at a @NewAmerica Foundation event next week. Also enjoying the 1927 classic “Circus Parade,” by Jim Tully with a Foreword by the late Harvey Pekar, an unsentimental portrait of big top life. To learn more about Tully, a hobo writer turned Hollywood insider, here’s a blog essay of mine about him.  

Lost American Writer Found–Jim Tully

Until recently, I had not read even one of the fourteen books by the early- to mid-twentieth-century American writer Jim Tully (1886-1947) and knew little about him. Given my personal interest in Tully’s subject matter, which included circuses, hoboes, and riding the rails, springing from his twin milieux, rural Ohio and early Hollywood, I’m surprised at myself for having been slow to pick up on him. Now having sampled his work and discovered what an important and successful literary career he made in his life by reading the excellent new biography of him, Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler, I’m going to do my part here to redress this widespread case of historical amnesia. I believe that now–especially in light of the Occupy movement and the attention it’s drawing to the economic distress afflicting millions in our society–is an ideal time for Jim Tully to be rediscovered. / / more . . .