Peter Benchley passed Sunday of pulmonary fibrosis. Like everyone else I read Jaws after I saw the movie, which led me to read the Deep, the Island, White Shark and even Creature. I enjoy a good monster a lot more than Hannibal Lecter-esque villains. But face it, they ain’t great art. They are trashy beach novels and it can’t really hurt to have more of them. I also think I kept reading out of a sense of loyalty.
I had read a lot of work by Nathaniel Benchley – I was very fond as kid of humorous fiction of the whitebread middle american kind: the Off-Islanders was one of my favorites. (I am also particularly fond of Norman Jewison‘s filmed version the Russian’s are Coming, the Russians are Coming, I was all over anything that satirized the cold war.) Nathaniel wrote a lot of books Catch a Falling Spy, Sail a Crooked Ship, Sweet Anarchy. I think only his kids books are in print anymore.
But the real benchmark was Robert, famed of song, story, film, radio, magazine, books, essays, you name it, he was one guy who knew how to brand. Talk about sons trying to live up to their fathers, this guy was truly famous and truly gifted. At anyone time there are a number of anthologies of Robert Benchley‘s humor in print, and even more out of print. But it was ONLY recently that his short films have seen the light of day. Some can be found buried as short subjects on Warner Home Video releases (two can be found in the Thin Man box set), but Kino Video has released a dvd with fourteen of this shorts: Robert Benchley And The Knights Of The Algonquin.
It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. – Robert Benchley