January 25, 2007
A punch-by-punch guide to life
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Those critics fail to recognize that, in "Sammy," the lead character victimizes a roster of other Jews, all of whom are portrayed favorably.
Though these days he speaks slowly, with a bit of a slur like an old fighter, Schulberg is as active as ever. He is working on a new edition of a book, "Writers in America," with a new chapter on John O'Hara.
He once talked about founding an organization called Fighters and Writers, and in "Ringside" he articulates the essential similarity between the two professions: "When the bell rings, it's sort of interchangeable. You're out there under the bright lights feeling naked and alone. And what you do or fail to do out there can make or break your reputation for life."
That is probably truer of boxers than writers.
While Schulberg named names during the McCarthy period, he had circumstances that most would view as mitigating.
Unlike many Communist Party members, Schulberg had actually visited the Soviet Union and had watched as most of the writers there were either "killed or sent off to concentration camps." Moreover, the Communist Party had tried to stifle his creative freedom with "Sammy," all of which led to his "total disillusionment with the party."
It may be that a writer's life and reputation can change in time and that Schulberg's will only improve in the new millennium. Along with Norman Mailer and A.J. Liebling, he will always have a place in the pantheon of great writers, whose expertise was not limited to the subject of boxing.
The Backlot Film Festival will take place from Jan. 30-Feb. 3 at the Fine Arts Theater, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 360-0455, and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 4117 Overland Ave., Culver City, (310) 253-6625.
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