In 1988 novelist and screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man) was chosen as a judge for both the Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America beauty pageant. Goldman, newly separated from his wife of 27 years and suffering from a painful eye disorder, packed his bags, loaded up his tape recorder and tossed himself into the media madness of Cannes and Atlantic City. He walked away from the experience with a book that is part therapeutic and part anecdotal, full of humor, a degree of sadness, and a keen understanding of society's infatuation with movie stars, beauty queens, glamour, glitz and prizes.
Hype and Glory, much like Goldman's two other nonfiction forays—Adventures in the Screen Trade and The Season—illustrates his natural ability simply to observe those around him and comment on what it all means, if anything, to him, to us.
Using the festival and pageant as his home base, Goldman takes off on a number of pleasing detours—explaining how his screenwriting career began, fretting over the end of his marriage, outlining why movies do and don't get made, arguing with airline authorities, being concerned about what vision impairment can mean to someone who writes for a living. Hype and Glory is filled with lessons of life and lots of laughter. The writing is tight, the pace never dips below an Indy 500 race. With this book, Goldman even manages to achieve the impossible—he actually makes you care about two events that hardly matter. For this feat alone, the officials of the Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America pageant should appoint Goldman a judge for life. Either that or have him shot. (Villard, $18.95)