Youngblood Hawke is Herman Wouk’s contribution to the shelf of novels by novelists about novelists. The novel has the usual plot complications readers expect as the rube with the typewriter is taken on, taken in, and taken over by shysters.
The story opens with Arthur Youngblood Hawke’s sale of his first novel to Prince House. The novel is promising rather than good.
Art figures he needs to write about seven books before he’ll know his craft. He aims to be first a successful author, then a rich one, living off his investments while he writes great books.
Art invests the income from his books in enterprises from hog futures and commercial real estate to self-publishing. His financial successes and failures are spectacular, but they are never what’s important to him. His world is the pad of lined yellow paper that he fills hour after hour.
Like most other novels about novelists, Youngblood Hawke contrasts the mercenary publishing world with the world of the art. But Wouk’s cast of colorful characters makes clear that the profit motive operates throughout society: even artists have to eat.
And the most tenacious of the followers after fortune may be somebody’s mother.
[Herman Wouk based Youngblood Hawke on the life of Thomas Wolfe. The photo above shows the boarding house owned and operated by Wolfe’s mother where Wolfe lived until he went to college.]Youngblood Hawke: a novel Herman Wouk Little, Brown (paper) © 1962 783 pages 1962 bestseller #4 My grade B+