When I learned last night (via a Tweet from Greg Mitchell—yeah, Twitter still worked back then), that Budd Schulberg had died, I immediately pulled down from the shelf a copy of What Makes Sammy Run?, the book that made Schulberg famous (back before On the Waterfront made him immortal). I bought it at a thrift store years ago and have never gotten around to reading it. Judging by the wonderful introduction, written by Schulberg 11 years after Sammy was first published in 1941, I really ought to. A sample:
The complaint of most novelists is that their literary first-borns suffer inattention and cruel neglect. If I If I had any complaint, it was that Sammy suffered just the opposite. Overnight, the novel which I had hoped might please a few thoughtful readers became a succès scandale. Sammy, to push my French vocabulary to the wall, was a cause célèbre. Damon Runyon welcomed him into the inner-circle of all-time all-American heels. The title became a punch-line for radio comics and tabloid captions. Walter Winchell revealed to a breathless nation “the true identity of Sammy Glick.” Next day the Hollywood producer who had been positively identified as my model passed my table in a restaurant and pointedly looked the other way. Meanwhile, at least three other Hollywood producers had been similarly and just as positively identified.