Hollywood is very busy now promoting the movies they think will be Oscar winners with screenings. We’re anxiously awaiting the DVD’s to be sent out for Academy members to view. It’s like politics, the campaigning begins long before the actual event. This is a great world wide party with people guessing who might win, tagging their favorite actors…Will Matt Damon win?
“The Carpetbaggers was the first big money I made. Money gave me a lot of freedom, but no matter how much you make there’s always somebody chasing your ass for more.” – Harold Robbins
Harold worked hard for his money and he always had a great time spending it. He felt it was the payoff for all the hard work. He saw money as something that should not be hoarded…that should not be selfishly clung to as though it was life itself…He lived “out loud”, so people were comfortable asking him for more money…more donations and more than he probably should have given…and here’s something else he did that was surprising. He never felt paying a 90% federal tax during an era when he was making huge sums of money was wrong. He lavished money on those he loved; his wives, ex-wives, children. He lavished moneyon anyone that came into his world of generosity. As I have said before, he would have given you the shirt off his back. So, for me, I’d rather live like Harold Robbins, giving from the heart with abandon. Do you think he would be surprised that in today’s world the fight is still about money and power and greed???
It’s Tuesday, January 2, 1996. This year I will be 80 years old. I sit here at my IBM typewriter and try to figure out how I can tell the story of my life. Not easy. I don’t really know if it’s real life or just another story. Maybe it’s all the same to a writer. My life, it seems to me, is a story much like any other. After all, I wrote and became Harold Robbins. With each new character, a new man, but in reality very much another man. I became many men. Francis Kane, Johnny Edge, Danny Fisher, Jonas Cord, Nevada Smith, Jed Stevens, Angelo Perino and many more. But, it doesn’t matter. I am those men and they are me.”
Harold Robbins wrote this as a prologue to his autobiography, After the Tropic of Cancer, which was never completed. I used this prologue in my novel, “Harold & Me” because I felt what he said was true for so many writers. The lines in their story become as much them as the fictional character. And don’t we all expand our horizons a little bit each day with the experiences we live
Harold grew with every book from Francis Kane to Danny Fisher to Jonas Cord to Dax Xenos and his female characters, Jerrilee, Marja, Nelly, Janette, Tanya were the women he loved. He was all these people and they were him; and throughout each of his characters were good and bad people; weak and strong. But each, had the common thread of passion . This is what made them real, and this is what a reader falls in love with. That’s why the world of Harold Robbins is so seductive and intriguing.
How cool is it to sit in a room of knowledgeable, astute ladies that read 4 or 5 books a month, maintain their families and households, and work on community projects and careers? It is very cool and I was impressed! A few nights ago I was invited to a book club event in Valencia, CA., great for me because my purpose was to listen and talk about the book they had chosen to read, A Stone For Danny Fisher by Harold Robbins. What a wonderful evening with….Karen Schnurr, Anne Artusio, Mary Bontempi, Barbara DeSantis, Kerri Emmer, Sue Horwitz, Jessica Miller, Ann Piscitello, and Lisa Walsh.
Some had read Harold Robbins before and some had not. They admitted that they might not have chosen this book if it had not been for the book club. However, to their sheer delight each one loved the story and made very insightful and stirring comments about the story with his famous opening line…”There are many ways to get to Mount Zion Cemetery“. They were immediately drawn into the story and became completely immersed in the main character, Danny Fisher to the point of passion! It was an eye-opener for some who in comparing our world now and the era in which the book took place, there were striking similarities. It answered the question about Harold Robbins relevance in our world today. His novels are compelling and relevant to every age. Now, that’s a great writer and storyteller!
I spoke to a group of readers at a book club meeting the other day in Studio City, CA. They were a great group of avid readers with a variety of likes and dislikes. They had read “Never Love A Stranger”. The age group her was between 25 and 50. Mothers, business women, studio employees, porn set decorater, physician assistant. A varied and wonderful group with a common bond of books. This meeting brought out what I love about reading and immersing yourself into another world.
But, here was the common thread of comment about “NLAS”. “I found from the minute I opened up this book that I was immediately drawn into a different time, a different place and it grabbed my emotions. Somehow, I was transported into every character.”
It was great to hear all of this about Harold’s work, but I was curious about what they liked to read other than this book club opportunity. They read Stephen King, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Tom Clancy, Scott Turow, Deepak Chopra, and finally 3 of the women admitted that this was their 3, 6, and 10th time they had read Harold’s Never Love A Stranger. They also said that they saw something new each time they read it.
One reader admitted that she had not read a Harold Robbins book before. She said, it was a writer that her mother had read and she had not been interested in him because he was for her “yesterday”. But, now she wanted to know about his books and was going to download into her Kindle his other books.
I asked her why? She said she loved a book that enticed her from the first page. She loved to read a book that she fought sleep with to continue reading and when she woke up the next morning with the characters still alive in her mind. Congratulations, Harold! You’re reaching a new world of readers with work that can stand the test of time!
Harold Robbins explored people, industries, trends, politics, and the innermost desires of our society in his writings. In Descent from Xanadu, a novel written in 1983, it was a very powerful moment for him. He began the book soon after he had faced his own physical mortality challenge after having a stroke and experiencing aphasia. Can you imagine his torment of being the world’s most prolific writer and being unable to connect his words as he wanted….he went through terrible frustration when the words, his tools of trade, his way of reaching the world would not flow.
However, Harold Robbins had unconquerable courage and he worked tirelessly with a speech therapist, 8 hours a day, five days a week. Within six months his clarity and ability had returned. But, when he sat down to write the first page of Descent From Xanadu, he wondered if the magic was still there. The tension in the air was palpable that morning when he sat down at his IBM Selectric typewriter, and lit his Lucky Strike cigarette. I placed his coffee next to him and he smiled and winked at me (and of course, grabbed a body part). “Sweetheart, here we go!”
I smiled at him and knew with confidence he could do anything and overcome any problem. I went downstairs to my office, secretly checking the clock as the moments passed by. Several hours later, the intercom beeped in my office. “#*@****, I did it! Get f—— Paul on the phone and get your a– up here and read this!”
If you haven’t read Descent from Xanadu, please do. You will see so much more when you know the story behind the story. Maybe, you’ll find your own answers.