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Herman Wouk

The Lawgiver

Herman Wouk The Lawgiver
$11.20 New
 
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Excerpt from book:


CHAPTER ONE

MR. GLUCK

(INTEROFFICE MEMO, 11:20 A.M.)



BSW LITERARY AGENCY

HW:

Sorry to trouble you. That Andrea with the British accent just rang yet again. She already rang at 9 this morning on the dot. She said Mr. Warshaw would make it worth my while if I would put him through to Mr. Wouk on the phone even for a minute or two, “by mistake.” (A gross offer of a bribe?) She still won’t say what it’s about.



I ignored 3 calls from her yesterday and 2 on Friday. This will just go on and on.





(HW OFFICE PHONE RINGS, RINGS, RINGS.)



(Secretary on speakerphone) Look, HW, Tim Warshaw got through to me, told me what he wants to say to you, and asks for a couple of minutes, no more. I can’t take the responsibility to pass this up. I told him I’d have to stay on the line and take notes. He laughed and said, “Why not?” Here he is.

WARSHAW: (slow, deep voice) Mr. Wouk?

HW: Yes.

WARSHAW: Sir, would one million dollars for a half-hour conference interest you?

(Insert by HW: A jolt. These Hollywood hoodlums! He has the money, he’s riding high, Best Picture Oscar for his art-house breakout from the big disaster films. A million! . . . Family foundation, charities . . . son’s divorce . . .)

HW: Mr. Warshaw, I’m ninety-six years old, trying to get one more book done while I last. Thank you, but—

WARSHAW: Sir, dare I ask what the new book is about?

HW: No.

WARSHAW: May I tell you what I’m calling about, and I swear that’ll be that? I’ll thank you and hang up—

HW: Go ahead.

WARSHAW: (pause—slow, deep) Moses . . .

HW: Moses?

WARSHAW: Moses, sir. Pharaoh, Burning Bush, splitting the sea—

HW: Oh, yes, that Moses. The one Cecil B. DeMille did twice—

WARSHAW: Sir, this would be all different. Think twenty-first century, think special effects—think maybe three-D—

HW: Mr. Warshaw, I’ve appreciated your approach. Most of all, your offer to thank me and hang up.

WARSHAW: Thank you, sir. I’m hanging up.

(He hangs up.)



(HW NEW NOVEL WORK JOURNAL)



9:10 a.m.

Blasted day yesterday, when I was just getting a handle on the new approach to this confounded book, or thought I was. Timothy Warshaw, the red-hot moviemaker of the hour, with an artsy departure from his disaster blockbusters—he copped an Oscar for Best Picture, Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by a nutty Japanese with a cast of all unknown teenagers in masks—the critics rolled over neighing and kicking their hooves in the air—this Warshaw phoned and offered me “one million dollars for a half-hour conference.” Turned him down rudely. Last night at dinner we talked about it.

BSW: Good. That half-hour conference is baloney. He’d get his money’s worth out of your hide, one way or another. Is this new “impossible novel” of yours really started?

HW: Two preliminary journal files. No copy yet. I was drafting the first page of an opening scene when Warshaw bulldozed past Priscilla and got to me.

BSW: What do you want to do about it?

HW: Nothing. Write the book.

BSW: Well, I’ve had my doubts, you know. Not much interest in Moses nowadays.

HW: Oh, no? What do you suppose Warshaw wanted to talk to me about? (Imitates Warshaw.) MO . . . SES . . .

BSW: No! Wow.

HW: Coincidence? What else? Security breach? Nobody, but nobody, except you—and Priscilla, typing my notes, and she’s a silent tomb—knows that I’ve been working on a Moses novel.

BSW: It’s a ploy.

HW: Forget it, then.

BSW: No. Give him the half hour, but don’t take his money. Just listen.

HW: What’s the point?

BSW: I’m curious. He’ll spill something.

HW: Yo

"The Lawgiver is an unadulterated delight, a compelling, old-fashioned story in sleek new-fashioned clothes. How fortunate it is for readers that Mr. Wouk, who published The Caine Mutiny when I was but four years old, has not lost an iota of his storytelling genius. The Lawgiver is fast, funny, romantic, and moving."


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