Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Generally Speaking is the book Richard Rohmer was born to write.  It explains all the useless side trips in the novels, for one thing. They’re in there because they happened to the author.  One time, he went to Kuwait looking for money. Another time, he flew a de Havilland Otter.  Another time he was in Buffalo. And it shows that the techno-thriller wasn’t the only genre that Rohmer undertook without first examining any other author’s examples.  He’s also never read an autobiography.

Does an autobiography need a theme? Of course not. Introspection? Discovery? A wistful sense of loss? A humble sense of gratitude? An awestruck sense of “Little did I know at the time…?” Anything? Nah.

This happened and then this happened.  And then I met Rosemary Clooney.

Although, you do like the guy.

And I gasped out loud when the premiere blew his brains out in the shower.  That was unexpected.  And seems to have had exactly the same effect on Rohmer as the time he wasn’t invited to the opening of the science museum.

Another thing it explains about his novels? The charming lack of characters.  Rohmer never seems to have asked himself why anyone does anything.  They do what they do for money. And a promotion. And a chance to meet Rosemary Clooney.

Three things, and then the floor is yours, friends:

We learn, very late in the proceedings, that Rohmer not only dictates his books, but that this one is being dictated in the car.  It’s like learning that Cole Porter wrote “At Long Last Love” waiting for help to arrive after his horse fell on him. It explains a lot.

Princess Di is dicking with the major-general when she says his medal is falling off, and asks if she can have it, right?  I think he's too star-blind to understand that he’s being bullied by a mean girl.  Or am I reading too much into it?

Rohmer recalls meeting Colin Powell aboard the USS Intrepid, which Rohmer says was named after his friend, The Man Called. But the United States Navy has had ships named Intrepid for 200 years. I guess he’s joking.  But what’s the joke?

1 comment:

  1. If this is his idea of an autobiography, what are we to expect with biography? Generally Speaking gives us a hint when discussing E.P. Taylor: The Biography of Edward Plunket Taylor:

    After we celebrated the publication of his biography I said to Taylor, "Eddie, I'll never do another goddam biography as long as I live!" He appeared hurt. "Why not?" My reply was to the point. "It's too much work!"

    Here, in total, is Rohmer's description of that work:

    I agreed to do the biography and to arrange for its publication, which was ultimately done by McClelland & Stewart.
    After an enormous amount of work and many months of research and writing, which included trips to the Bahamas, where E.P. Taylor had developed Lyford Cay, the biography was finished.