Thursday, August 14, 2014

10. The Deal by G. William Marshall

The Deal might be one of the weirdest books I've ever read.  Oddly obscure as well, given its trade dress and genre (the 70s Hollywood scandal blockbuster fiction).  I picked it up on a whim outside Westcott books on the Main (this is actually quite a classic old used bookstore that got booted from its old downtown spot into my neighbourhood, unfortunately at a time when I became very picky about my book buying).  This is quite likely confirmation bias (probably the definition of it), but I have gotten pretty good about picking completely unknown books that turn out to be enjoyable and The Deal is another example of that.

I'm not telling anybody that this is a good book.  It is written in an annoying informal style with an equally annoying non-traditional structure that is basically abandoned about halfway through.  It starts out with chapters that are these character studies with titles like "The Lawyer", "The Actress".  But once the actual story gets going, it is pretty entertaining.  The story is told from the perspective of a hotshot young producer who steals away a major star for an exclusive 5-picture deal.  The star is an insane narcissist and notorious partier.  The story is their relationship and the chaos surrounding the production of the movies.  Here is the kicker.  The star has a super tiny penis and not only cannot satisfy any women, he cannot even satisfy himself!  I told you this book was weird.  He even has the prop guy make him a super realistic-looking prosthetic penis that he can actually use.

The star gets in worse and worse trouble and the productions become more and more difficult.  The final calamity is a super disturbing rape murder that ultimately seals this book into the trash category.  It's kind of a sad cop-out really, because there was enough madness leading up to the ending that there was no need to go down the tired (even in 1967) misogyny trope road.

The star is known only as The Baron or Baron in the book.  The cover claims that it was based on a real star and the author was a producer who made a few movies with Errol Flynn near the end of his career.  He was known to lead a pretty hedonistic life.  Did he really have a small penis or was that just revenge on the author's part?

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