Retro Reading: The Fan by Bob Randall
An Original Stalking Tale
My summer of retro reading is off and running with one of my all time favorites and even after reading it nearly 40 years later, it still holds up.
The Fan written by Bob Randall isn't your typical book. It's written through letters and notes by the characters which makes for a very fast read.
It's the story of an obsessed fan (Douglas Breen) who seems harmless when requesting a simple autographed 8x10 of his favorite actress, Sally Ross. Of course his letters are intercepted by her secretary, Belle Goldman and when she inadvertently refers to him as "a member of Miss Ross' fan club" Douglas has a personal vendetta against Belle.
In his mind, he believes that Sally is also in love with him and in his fantasy world its just the two of them. At first, Belle doesn't see this coming, but after letting Sally know, she tells her to dismiss him and he'll go away like they normally do. He doesn't.
Sally also has to face the fact that she's a 50 year old actress and Hollywood isn't calling like they once did. She's content with working in theater, however, her new show doesn't seem like it's going to be the smash its projected to be. Plus, she's still in love with her ex-husband, Jake, who recently remarried someone half Sally's age.
Randall takes us behind the scenes of the celebrity life exposing them as the frightened humans they are. While the novel is set in the first six months of 1976, no one at that time had ever heard of stalking. Isn't it funny how times have changed?
The novel was turned into a motion picture starring Lauren Bacall and is considered one of the worst films ever made. In the years since then, it has gained cult status, but I've always enjoyed the film. Of course, it's hard to write a movie based on a novel of letters and notes, but still both are my personal favorites.
If you're looking for a quick fast read then get a copy of The Fan wherever you can find it. You may be lucky to find it in a used bookstore and most assuredly online.
I'm pretty sure you'll like it (and as a side note, the movie is out of print so your best bet at finding it would be online).