You know I like a book when I have five different editions of it. That’s the case with Passing Strange. And this time, I’m pretty sure I liked it even more than my first reading, twenty-some years ago.
Why? Because I know more about writing than I did then, and have an even greater appreciation for Richard Sale’s talent. This is the kind of book that puts me in the mood to write.
The narrator here is Peter Merritt, a New York obstetrician who’s summoned to Hollywood by his pregnant sister-in-law. Though he considers himself stuffy compared to movie folk, he shows flashes of Daffy’s wit and classical education, and is far less stuffy than the physician hero of Sale’s first Hollywood novel, Lazarus #7.
In Hollywood, Merritt meets two of the supporting players from Lazarus #7, the quiet but effective homicide detective Daniel Webster, and slimy but almost likable movie producer Al Roche. A third of the way into the book, the setting moves east, and all the Hollywood players move along with it, bringing their wacky personalities with them. ‘
I've been slowly reworking my way through all of Sale's novels, of which this is the sixth. Previously reviewed here were Not Too Narrow . . . Not Too Deep (1936), Is A Ship Burning? (1937), The Rogue (pulp serial, 1938), Cardinal Rock (1940) and Lazarus #7 (1942). Still to come are Sailor Take Warning (aka Home is the Hangman) (1942), Destination Unknown (aka Death at Sea) (1943), Benefit Performance (1946), The Oscar (1963), For the President's Eyes Only (1971) and The White Buffalo (1975). Stay tuned.
Click HERE for earlier Sale reviews, pulp covers, two complete Daffy Dill stories, the first Candid Jones story, an early story from Nickel Detective and other cool Sale stuff.
Click HERE to visit pattinase, where you'll find links to more Forgotten Books.