“One aspect of Samantha’s personality that drove me nuts was her tendency to reveal herself via literary allusions. She called it a quirk, but it was more of a compulsion. Her mother was Lady Macbeth; her father, Big Daddy. An uncle she liked was Mr. Micawber, a favorite governess, Jane Eyre; a doting professor, Mr. Chips.
This curious habit of hers quickly made the voyage from eccentric to bizarre when she began to invoke the names of literary characters to describe moments in our relationship. When she thought I was treating her rudely, she called me Wolf Larsen; if I was standoffish, I was Mr. Darcy; when I dressed too shabbily, I was Tom Joad.
Once, in bed, she yelled out the name Victor as she approached orgasm. I assumed she was referring to Victor Hugo because she’d been reading ‘Les Miserables.’. It didn’t really bother me that much though it was a little odd being with a woman who thought she was having sex with a dead French author.”
Last Friday I began reading John Blumenthal‘s newest novel, ” What’s Wrong With Dorfman?“, and since then I have barely put it down. This book could not have arrived at a better time, and I’ve looked forward to every spare second I could cleave from the day so I could dive back in, join up with Martin Dorfman and his wicked sense of humour, and drift along as he wrestles with nagging hypochondria, Screenwriter burnout, and a slew of friends, agents, and family members so profoundly disparate each encounter is a story in itself.
The problem is… I’m about to finish the book. I don’t want this book to end, so I’ve put it on the table to look at. I hate having to part with characters I’ve grown to love. Generally I delay the inevitable until I’m driven mad with curiosity and finally can’t stop myself from gobbling up the remaining few pages. I expect to be plunged into Post-Dorfman depression before the day is ou
“What’s Wrong With Dorfman? ” is such an excellent book. Just excellent. Thank you for the tremendously enjoyable escapism I’ve become dependant upon over the last few days, John. It’s safe to say my imminent funk is all your fault.
From: Publishers Weekly:
Built in 1905, six years before the area’s first film studio began operations, Hollywood High was nicknamed “The Star Hatchery” in 1936the year Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Marge Champion, Nanette Fabray and Alexis Smith were all on campus at the same time. A student publication, The Hollywood High School News , was launched in 1918, and the author taps into its rich mine of forgotten filmland trivia. In 1950-51 the News was edited by Carol Burnett who also contributed a sophomoric humor column: “ETIKUT: Its sorta considered good taste when you sorta bump sumone in the hall
to go back and pick ’em up.” Burnett introduced a series of interviews with alumni-turned-movie stars, which was discontinued when it was discovered she was writing the pieces on class time. Along with numerous appealing anecdotes,Blumenthal ( The Tinseltown Murders ) gathers recent reminiscences from celebrities who look back on their high school days with nostalgia and embarrassment. “I just wanted to blend in with the wall,” recalls a once-shy Linda Evans. “I didn’t want anyone to notice me too much because I was very shy.” Yvette Mimieux: “I hated it. Classrooms are prisons.” Blumenthal’s profile of the late Rick Nelson suggests he is unaware that Nelson was famous as a child radio actor prior to his TV debut, but this is a minor oversight. This carefully researched, amusing chronicle also has value as an historical record of the 20th century as viewed through the eyes of American teenagers. Illustrated with yearbook photos.
“Blue Streak” ranks in the upper reaches of the cop buddy genre, up there in “Lethal Weapon” territory. It has the usual ingredients for a cop comedy, including the obligatory Dunkin’ Donuts product placement, but it’s assembled with style–and it’s built around a Martin Lawrence performance that deserves comparison with Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, with a touch of Mel Gibson’s zaniness in the midst of action.
Martin Lawrence is a comic actor with real talent, not always shown to best advantage. “Bad Boys” (1995) his cop buddy movie with Will Smith, was not a career high point, and it took a certain nerve to make another one. But “Blue Streak” works.
In The Tinseltown Murders, Detective Mac Slade is being hounded by a pair of Mob goons with the combined IQ of a ficus tree. In the nick of time, he gets a frantic call from the wife of Hollywood private eye Jack Mushnik. Arriving on the Coast after eluding the goons, Slade goes to a glitzy Hollywood bash in search of Jack and finds him — curled up in a refrigerator, dead as can be.
A lady private eye, a runaway farm girl, a movie star, a hostile homicide detective named Lieutenant Lou Tennant, a Chinese houseboy, a Nazi cleaning lady, a Hollywood agent, a gay hairdresser, a celebrity psychic and behemoth named Moose Lebowitz all do their utmost to impede Slade’s sleuthing — but to no avail. He not only solves the numerous murders but answers the burning question, “Who is Peaches Moskowitz?”
If you’re a woman, how would you react if the man who broke your heart twenty years ago suddenly showed up on your doorstep to apologize? And if you happen to be that man, what would motivate you to do something that bold and unpredictable, and what would you expect to happen? And will sexual sparks be re-ignited after twenty years?
It all begins when our hapless hero’s wife leaves him for the guy up the block. After a mostly unsuccessful foray into the world of Internet dating, he finds himself revisiting his past. Engulfed by nostalgia,a nd sexual fantasies, he’s suddenly gripped by pleasant memories of three old flames — Laura, Samantha and Molly — all of whom happened to have been virgins when he met them twenty years before.
But the warm refuge of the past soon gives way to icy reality when he confronts the sobering details of how maliciously he tricked, seduced and broke each of their hearts. Overcome by remorse and tantalized by curiosity, he finds a way to reshape his past.
Which, if any of the virgins will our hero end up with after his quest? The answer will surprise you.
There are three editions of “What’s Wrong With Dorfman?” and two separate Publishers Weekly reviews, one good, one not so good. Here’s the good one in its entirety:
Martin Dorfman is in rough shape. His work is ignored by film producers, his agent doesn’t return his calls and the symptoms of his mysterious new disease baffle both his doctor and his wife. He is, in short, a typical Hollywood screenwriter. This is familiar territory for novelist and screenwriter Blumenthal, who has mined his own evidently wretched experiences in L.A. several times before, in The Official Hollywood Handbook, a history of Hollywood High and two hardboiled mysteries. Here, however, Blumenthal attempts something more ambitious. In his frequently hilarious and unexpectedly touching novel, Hollywood takes a backseat to the emotional travails of the perpetually anguished protagonist. Dorfman can’t figure out what’s wrong with him, but it’s not for lack of trying. He visits several physicians, an herbalist and even a New Age practitioner called a “chiropractic allergist.” Finally he caves in to his wife’s demands and agrees to see a psychiatrist, who extracts from Dorfman’s comically warped upbringing the root of all his current neuroses. Blumenthal succeeds here at something very difficult: he creates smart, funny characters who actually sound smart and funny. (“How’s the world treating you, Martin?” Dorfman’s doctor asks at one point. “Like a cat treats a catbox,” replies Dorfman.) But Blumenthal’s real feat is the sneaky, unexpected way he adds depth to Dorfman’s hypochondriacal plight, distracting the reader with one-liners until it suddenly becomes clear that this is, in fact, a very serious book. The humorous chapters detailing script negotiations and rewrites feel like recycled material, but otherwise the book is a poignant and finely crafted exploration of the legacies and burdens passed down from parents to children. Blumenthal’s novel may come in under the radar of fans of more commonplace noirish, gossipy L.A. tales, but those who happen upon it will be pleasantly surprised.
“What’s Wrong With Dorfman?”
In the midst of navigating his latest film script through Hollywood Development Hell, the forty-year-old Dorfman—a certfied hypochondriac—wakes up one morning with a mysterious disease. His doctors conclude that he is in perfect health, but Dorfman is convinced he is dying and sets out on an odyssey to find a diagnosis. Heralded by the “Wall Street Journal” as “a funny and surprisingly moving story written at the intersection of shtick and angst,” and described by Nora Ephron as “a very funny book,” What’s Wrong With Dorfman? follows the title character as he encounters his innermost demons, confronts his past and takes up with the beguiling Delilah Foster, a fellow sufferer. Will Dorfman find a cure? Will his movie get made? Will he run away with Delilah? And most importantly, what indeed is wrong with Dorfman? More than just the plight of one man, “What’s Wrong with Dorfman?” reflects the angst of modern society and asks the question, “Aren’t we all a little nuts?”