Vox Tablet

In the Picture

Bruce Jay Friedman’s darkly comic novels, short stories, and screenplays place him among the past century’s best American writers. In his new memoir, Lucky Bruce, he reminisces about many of them.

August 29, 2011
Bruce Jay Friedman at Elaine's, as drawn by his son.(Drew Friedman)
Bruce Jay Friedman at Elaine’s, as drawn by his son.(Drew Friedman)

Bruce Jay Friedman has been writing across genres and media for more than half a century. Literary types remember Stern, his 1962 breakout book, referred to by one critic as “the first Freudian novel.” Movie buffs know him as the screenwriter of blockbusters like Splash and Stir Crazy. The film The Heartbreak Kid was based on his short story “A Change of Plan.” And then there were his several plays, including the popular 1970 Steambath.

Now Friedman has written Lucky Bruce, a memoir that takes readers from his Depression-era childhood in the Bronx to his time in Hollywood, with stops along the way at Elaine’s and other literati hangouts. He recalls his long friendships with Mario Puzo and Joseph Heller and recounts amusing run-ins with Norman Mailer, Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, and many others, all with his famous dark humor. His passion for writing, and admiration for those who do it well, is ever present. (You can read an excerpt from Lucky Bruce here.)

Tablet Magazine’s Ellen Umansky spoke to Friedman—or BJF, as he’s known to many—about his storied career. [Running time: 21:46.]

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