Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Immortal - Walter Ross


Johnny Preston, the handsome, tough idol of a million teenage fans, was born into a crazy, mixed-up generation of postwar American adolescence. Soon his ability to convey emotion on a movie screen made him one of its leading representatives. But adulation wasn't enough for Johnny. He had to move faster and live wilder than everyone else. He had to drive his car hard and fly a 'plane carelessly, for kicks-and one day that was the end of Johnny Preston.

With a major film starring Preston still to be released, the studio wasn't talking much about the ghoulish free publicity that it was getting from the teenagers, who rioted around his grave chanting that Johnny wasn't dead.

Others were not so reticent. There was a woman, old enough to know better, but, like the others, tempted by the something that hung like a charm around Johnny Preston. She kept a diary. The girl from the acting school had a shorthand record of her life with Johnny. The psychoanalyst whose male patient initiated Johnny into homosexuality had only to go to his detailed, clinical file. The film starlet talked off the record to a journalist about her relationship with Johnny, and it was a lot franker than the article which subsequently appeared in a magazine. And there was a press agent who had a couple of things to add about a personality that was extravagant even by Hollywood standards.

In this novel Walter Ross builds up, with astonishing skill, a character-study of a talented young man who sought the unattainable and who became so much a part of the world of illusion and shadow that he seemed to exist even after his death.

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