Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die – James Dean’s Final Hours
Some will be tempted to buy this book based on the subtitle, James Dean’s Final Hours. It’s not so much a minute-by-minute account of Dean’s last day as it is a short biography. The subtitle is a hook to draw the reader in.
If you’re interested in Dean, but not so much that you would want to read a 400, 500 or 600 page bio, this may serve your purposes. Yes, it does cover the circumstances and details of the actor’s death in 1955, but it’s told in a style that bounces all over, around and about Dean’s life. The reader who appreciates a chronological telling of a true story may find this somewhat frustrating.
Also frustrating is a high amount of repetition. For example, more times than I could count the writer mentions that, “Much of Jimmy’s torment came from the early demise of his mother.” Stating this once would have been sufficient. Greenberg is fixated with the notion that those close to Dean all died under untimely and strange circumstances. And like many Hollywood biographers, he’s a bit too caught up in his subject’s sex life.
A fascinating story told in a less than captivating manner.
Keith Elliot Greenberg
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books