Wednesday, January 31, 2007

From piloting to potboilers

"Legendary" and "world-famous" strike me as misnomers for a writer whose books were potboilers at best. (At best.) One can hear the wailing of millions of bored housewives around the globe who have lost their guiding light... Years back I read a couple of his books and thought they were relatively entertaining cheese, but I gave Sheldon up for good when one climaxed with the appearance of a fucking UFO. Cheap deus ex machina plot devices such as that were all too common in his books. Still, his talent stretched across multiple areas, giving his body of work an impressive range.
Born in 1917 to a German Jewish father and a Russian Jewish mother, Sheldon's writing career began in Hollywood at the age of 20 where he worked on scripts and movies, earning 17 dollars a week.

It was the start of one of the most successful literary careers of the 20th century that would see him become the most translated writer in the world, his works available in 51 languages and sold in 108 countries.

Sheldon would also become the only writer to have won an Oscar, a Tony and an Edgar award, and was eventually the recipient of several prestigious honors which included a writing prize at France's Deauville film festival.

He trained and served as a pilot during World War II and even found time to write a clutch of successful musicals before the war was out.

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