Monday, March 16, 2009

Wanderer by Sterling Hayden

I finally finished this book. I stopped a couple years ago because I was enjoying it so much, I didn't want it to end. I know, silly reason not to finish a book, but I do that sometimes. Leave things hanging or unfinished just to sort of preserve that feeling of bliss. Just a quirk of mine, I guess.

But I love this book on every level. I actually can't even find the right words to describe why this book moves me so much. I simply love everything about it. I love his voice and various styles of writing. I love how clearly his love of the sea shines through, how disparaging and bitter and honest he is about his own life, and yet how glorious some moments are despite (or because of) that. I love his writing. I talked about how much I loved his writing back when I was first reading it, and, if anything, my appreciation has only grown. I wouldn't mind owning a second copy, just so I could read it again and highlight all the phrases I liked. (I have issues with writing or marking books, but maybe if I had a specific copy just for that....) There were so many sections I admired that I wanted to write down in my notebook, but I realized if I stopped every few minutes to jot something down, I'd lose the greater flow, and on the first reading, I simply wanted to enjoy the entire story. I've never tried creating a favorite list of books, but this one is right up near the very top of it. It's so much more than just an autobiography.

I'd never seen Sterling Hayden in any films before I originally started reading his book. I knew him as a writer first, actor second. I think he would have liked that.


  1. I'm going to have to read it! I hope it's readily available because I'm really looking forward to it now!

  2. Wow. I'e never heard of that book, but I'm intrigued now!

  3. To his detractors, Sterling Hayden comes off as wooden and unskilled, but he's always been one of my favorite actors (top 20; for my as-yet uncompiled list ;)) for his great presence and what he *doesn't* say that makes him such a good actor. Make sense? Anyway, I'm fascinated by Hayden's tough times during the HUAC business and his subsequent personal decisions. I get a sense of pride knowing he made a comeback in the early seventies and like another troubled actor, Robert Ryan, got better as an actor as he matured. Great read. I posted a bit on Hayden way back when I first started blogging. There will no doubt be more to come.

  4. Kate - Amazon has it, as well as (one of the best online go-to places for used books), so it's definitely still out there and in print.

    Melissa -- it's such a good book on so many levels. I also enjoy it because he writes very differently from me, and I like studying what he does, how it works so well.

    C.K. -

    "...for his great presence and what he *doesn't* say that makes him such a good actor."

    Yes! I noticed the same thing about him in the two movies I watched. That whole "wooden" accusation is leveled at quite a few actors I like, and it just makes me shake my head. I remember your post on him, talking about Manhandled, right?

  5. D: Yes, "Manhandled" and how Hayden was betrayed by his psychiatrist to name names for HUAC.

    As for that "wooden" charge, those critic dopes have said that about Gary Cooper, Dana Andrews, Gregory Peck, and John Wayne. Rubbish!

  6. I was wondering about this book, whether it was worth reading. You have convinced me that it is! Thank you.

    Are you going to see one of Sterling's films now?

  7. Hiya, Raquelle - yes, it's definitely worth reading, particularly as you've got him on your 20-fave actor list and the wonderful hot toddy series... are more of those posts upcoming? :-D And, yep, I've seen several of his films now. I particularly liked him in The Killing. Asphalt Jungle is in my queue too, and I'm looking forward to that one.

  8. I've nearly picked up "The Asphalt Jungle" from the library many times. Will have to get it now. I've only seen Hayden in his last work, "The Blue and the Gray." He played John Brown, doesn't have much screentime, but is definitely memorable.

  9. Anonymous9:07 PM

    I just finished Wanderer, and it is an outstanding book. I, like you, started it earlier but put it aside because I was too busy and found I was rushing through it, rather than enjoying the journey. If there were one man dead or alive I would like to meet, I think it would be Hayden. The honesty and the brilliant prose for a man with limited formal education was amazing.