Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sailor and Fiddler: Herman Wouk Looking back at 100 Years

Sailor and Fiddler

It's not often we get to read the memoir of a 100-year-old person who is still alive. Wouk is the well-known and well-respected author of such gems as:
  • The Caine Mutiny (which won the Pulitzer Prize)
  • Marjorie Morningstar
  • Youngblood Hawke
  • The Winds of War
  • War and Remembrance
In this surprisingly brief (considering the time span involved) volume, Wouk takes us from his beginnings as a gagman, through the circumstances in which he wrote his various novels and screenplays and tells us about the people he rubbed shoulders with along the way. The one person who stands out as his particular treasure is BSW, Sarah, his beloved wife of 66 years, his confidante, his interior decorator and also his literary agent for many years. Sadly she passed away in 2011 and he now carries on alone.

The Sailor part of the title refers to his Navy years, both in the service and as a chronicler of events and people he encountered there. In the Fiddler section, Wouk shares the lessons learned in his faith journey as an observant Jew. All is told with wit and good humour though he also shares his and Sarah's grief and continuing sadness at losing their 5-year old first-born son in a drowning accident. 

Herman Wouk will celebrate his 101st birthday in May. What a force he is! Thanks for all your great novels, Mr. Wouk. And Happy Birthday!