Thursday, February 18, 2010

Writer James T. Farrell

One of the books I enjoyed as a teenager was Studs Lonigan, a trilogy by James T. Farrell, a story of an Irish-Catholic growing up in Chicago. Farrell was a Socialist, something I didn't know at the time and didn't care anyway, since I had no clue at age 15 or 16 as to the connection between a person's writing and his political beliefs. He was born in 1904 and died in 1979 and began writing the trilogy in 1932 with Young Lonigan. Wikipedia states that the Studs Lonigan trilogy was number 29 on the best 100 novels of the Modern Library's list for the Twentieth Century.

As a high school student I enjoyed the descriptions and antics of Studs even though some of the language wouldn't have met the Mormon morality requirements. I read the book "in secret", that is, my parents never cared to ask about my reading material and I didn't talk much about it to anyone anyway. If there was a political message in it, it was not clear to me, but I thought it was a good book. That's the trouble with remembering the books I read so long ago (60 years), that I remember them at all is amazing to me. I guess it's because those books were well written and put forth a good story to an impressionable young mind.

Wikipedia states that Studs Lonigan was made into a movie in 1960 directed by Irving Lerner and starring
Christopher Knight in the title role. Other cast members were Frank Gorshin, Venetia Stevenson, and JACK NICHOLSON in one of his first movie roles. In 1979 it was made into a TV series starring Harry Hamlin, Colleen Dewhurst, Brad Dourif, Dan Shor and Charles Durning. I never saw either as I recall.

You can get info here on the movie: and on the TV series here:

Farrell wrote several other books over his long career including some short story collections, but Studs was the only one I recall reading.

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