I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not the first writer in my family. Certainly not the best known or most successful, either. Both of those accolades would have to go to Harry.
I never met Harry, my maternal grandmother’s cousin, before he died in 1986 of emphysema (don’t smoke, kids). I didn’t even know what he looked like until I found this photo online; I can see a family resemblance. I did hear stories about him, most of which revolved around his having a lot of ex-wives, drinking, and on one occasion, dropping the Thanksgiving turkey on the kitchen floor.
Although I’m not sure, I could be conflating my Harrys on that last story.
I do know he eventually went to California and had success as a screenwriter, writing or co-writing scripts including A Place in the Sun (for which he won an Oscar) and Ocean’s Eleven. Before that, though, he wrote a novel, which I don’t think is in print anymore, making it a candidate for today’s #BookADayUK prompt:
With A Walk in the Sun, Harry Brown tells an understated yet gripping and realistic tale of the randomness and impersonal nature of combat. In the Allied landings at Salerno on the Italian peninsula during World War II, a fictional platoon loses its lieutenant and senior sergeant to enemy fire, regroups inland to decide what to do, and soon loses its next-senior NCO to battle fatigue. This short but intense novel follows the remaining members of the platoon as they attempt to ascertain their mission and carry it out based on the only guide they have, a map found on the lieutenant’s body. The day unfolds from there—as simple as a walk in the sun, as simple, really, as war sometimes is. Some make it, some don’t, and those who don’t aren’t always dead. Brown’s spare narration echoes the gritty realities his characters face and provides an unflinching portrayal of the uncertainty of war.
That one may still be available, but I’m somewhat more certain that his novel The Stars in Their Courses is out of print. I haven’t read either one, but I did just place A Walk in the Sun on hold at the library, so I’ll be correcting that oversight soon.
I don’t know if I’ll ever write a screenplay, but hey, something to aspire to!