Millard Kaufman died last week. While I’ve been doing things away from the internet the last couple of weeks, the news slipped by me. Who was Millard Kaufman, you ask? He was a writer. A good one, in my opinion, whose work I simultaneously happily encountered for the first time and reacquainted myself with during the past year.
Read the New York Times obituary:
An interesting life, unconventional and well-lived by all outward appearances. And worth remembering by aficionados of great movies, just on the merits Bad Day At Black Rock alone.
The screen story, the direction by John Sturges, and the performances by a stacked-deck ensemble combine to form an unusual, elegiac, and intense piece of suspense. Spencer Tracy facing down the unparalleled Robert Ryan and a group of legendary heavies including Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine, and Tracy’s only got the one good arm? Watch it to see how it unfolds. Great movie.
But honestly, I didn’t recognize the name Millard Kaufman until last year, when I stumbled across his just-released debut novel Bowl Of Cherries in the bookstore. I liked the sound of the title right away, and the book jacket listed Bad Day At Black Rock and Mister Magoo as some of his other credits. With a somewhat-random-but-intriguing resume like that, I figured I’d give Bowl Of Cherries a shot. I did, and it hit me in the thumpy spot behind the ribs.
Here’s what I wrote a few months back about my feelings of Bowl Of Cherries, and by reposting it, I am urging anyone who loves words to give it a try:
And if you like that one, keep an eye out for his second book, which is apparently to be published post-humously later this year. It’s automatically now one of my most awaited.