33 years ago I was poking around Book Soup on Sunset, and I came upon a thin paperback version of Bruce Wagner‘s “Force Majeure“, which I’d been reading about. This was the original novella that was only 80 pages long. But as Hollywood satires went it was one of the tastiest and most downbeat (as in “fuck me, I can’t believe my life is over and I’m not even middle-aged yet”) I’d ever read.
Those 80 pages were honed to perfection. Every line was spot-on, every phrase tight as a drum.
Three and a half years later a much longer version of “Force Majuere” appeared — same author, same Bud Wiggins character, some of the same situations (including that legendary Malibu moment with a powerful red-haired producer blowing Wiggins while The Best Years of Our Lives played on a nearby TV), only this time it was 468 pages. It arrived in Book Soup on 8.2.91.
I didn’t find it as satisfying as the 80-page version. It was very well-written, but with each turn of the page I was muttering “if you can say it in 80 pages why write a 468-page version?”
Today I was searching around for my old, coffee-stained copy of the 80-page original. No dice. So I ordered a used copy on Amazon, for only $13 and change.