Biography Of A Buick and researchative entertainment
Along Afterhours-esque lines, I would probably look towards Jake Arnott’s The Long Firm and its gathering of characters factual and fictional in 1960s Soho and Peter Doyle’s Get Rich Quick which tours with Little Richard and other early rock’n'roll-ers around Australia.
Recently I stumbled upon another fine slice of such things: Bill Morris’ Biography Of A Buick.
This is set in 1954 and based around the American car manufacturer General Motors and its staff.
This was a point in America’s history where things were on the up – inflation is low, employment is high, to a degree ownership of consumer items such as televisions and automobiles were becoming more widespread and the populuxe aesthetic is coming into being.
One of the things that particularly intrigued me while reading the book was the number of cultural events that happened / began to happen at that time which have become archetypal or steadfast parts of the modern-day landscape and psyche:
Joe DiMaggio marries Marilyn Monroe and watches as she films her famous white dress heat vent scene, Neal Cassidy and Jack Kerouac were making the car journeys across America that would lead to the epitomic beat novel On The Road, Elvis made his first radio appearance, the template for assembly line, franchised fast food was put in place.
It can be a tricky thing to use real people’s lives in amongst fiction in such a way but Bill Morris carries this out in a respectful, informative manner.
When done well and informed by a particular level of interest, passion and research, such books seem to be a particularly good way of learning about pieces of semi-hidden history, of connecting the dots and lines between particular historical events and cultural figures / work / settings; a form of researchative entertainment.
Fine work Mr Morris.
Peruse Biography Of A Buick (also known as Motor City) here.