Littled Big Man: Duke: We’re Glad We Knew You edited by Herb Fagen
If one attempts a brief summation of a message one is left with in Herb Fagen’s tributary book Duke: We’re Glad We Knew You, it’s that its subject- John Wayne -was larger than life. We know this, not through a sensible observation of a cultural figure’s longevity and (if nothing else) largely self-created iconization, but in the fact that the book tells us this over and over and over… and over again. Indeed, there is so much repetition of thought about the Duke that if all traces of duplication were excised, the book might be reduced to a handy pocket sized brochure, a curious and unwarranted situation considering the grandiosity of Wayne’s legend combined with the relatively little that was shared about his private life that was not consistent with the careful nurturing of his particularly iconoclastic public persona.
The book is constructed in the form of a loose biographical narrative written by Fagen, with a hefty insertion of corresponding “oral” testimonials about Wayne from “friends and colleagues”, not dissimilar from the format of Rudolph Grey’s engaging Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr., but where that book encompassed a full spectrum of remembrance inclusive of a frank- yet still sympathetic -portrait of a severely flawed man, Fagen’s book is an unapologetic love letter comprised of unrelenting bouquets which occasionally hint at though collectively attempt to contradict any conscious contributory opinion which might render the subject as anything but superhuman.
To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-hollywood-bookshelf/