Synopses & Reviews
Ring Lardner, Jr.'s memoir is a pilgrimage through the American century.
The son of an immensely popular and influential writer, Lardner grew up swaddled in material and cultural privilege. After a memorable visit to Moscow in 1934, he worked as a reporter in New York before leaving for Hollywood where he served a bizarre apprenticeship with David O. Selznick, and won, at the age of 28, an Academy Award for Woman of the Year, the first on-screen pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.
In "irresistibly readable" pages (New Yorker), peopled by a cast including Carole Lombard, Louis B. Mayer, Dalton Trumbo, Marlene Dietrich, Otto Preminger, Darryl F. Zanuck, Bertolt Brecht, Bert Lahr, Robert Altman, and Muhammad Ali, Lardner recalls the strange existence of a contract screenwriter in the vanished age of the studio system an existence made stranger by membership in the Hollywood branch of the American Communist Party. Lardner retraces the path that led him to a memorable confrontation with the House Un-American Activities Committee and thence to Federal prison and life on the Hollywood blacklist. One of the lucky few who were able to resume their careers, Lardner won his second Oscar for the screenplay to M.A.S.H. in 1970.
"Lardner is amazingly free of bitterness, and his anecdotes about his professional career both before and after the witch-hunts are irresistibly readable." The New Yorker
"Some of the most significant events of the blacklist era...are part of the fabric of Ring Lardner Jr.'s eloquent memoir I'd Hate Myself in the Morning, a scrupulous, compassionate cultural history of a surreal time." Patricia Bosworth, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] new generation of film buffs and others interested in the McCarthy era will probably be just as charmed by Lardner's wit and unpretentiousness as their parents were." Publishers Weekly
"With much tighter editing, this would have made a good magazine article. As it stands, it's a mess." Kirkus Reviews
"[Lardner, Jr.] reminds us of serious issues an ignoble period in American politics and the vulnerability of the Bill of Rights but his tone is lively, and the excitement of working in Hollywood shines through." Library Journal
This memoir of a reporter-turned-screenwriter follows Lardner's experiences through the Hollywood contract system of the 1940s and 1950s and its demise. It also tells how Lardner's membership with the Hollywood branch of the American Communist Party garnered him a federal prison sentence and a place on the Hollywood blacklist. Photos.