Book Reviews

Jared Feldschreiber – Reckless Abandon: Book Review

Jared Feldschreiber on the struggles of a wannabe playwright in mid-eighties Manhattan.

Publication Date:  May 2019

Publisher: Independent

First, then, a bit of background.  Jared Feldschreiber is a journalist and filmmaker, born in New York City and now based in Warsaw, Poland.  His work has appeared in publications and blogs such as HuffPost, Kyiv Post, Jerusalem Post, World Policy Journal and Russia Beyond the Headlines.  As a journalist, Jared often concerns himself with issues relating to international policy and he is passionate about the importance of press freedom, particularly in nascent democracies.  He is the co-founder of Tree of Film, a literary and cinematic company that he runs with his partners, Philippe G Brunot, Michel Chaleunelangsy and Matthieu Rakotobe.  Reckless Abandon is Jared’s debut novella.

A short, but enjoyable and entertaining story, Reckless Abandon recounts the efforts and ambitions of one John Duggan, theatre critic and wannabe playwright, who devises a “dream” production and then sets about bringing that production to life.  Inspired by the achievements of three of Jared’s real-life heroes, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen and Bob Dylan, and by their co-incidental presence amongst the crowd at the Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier “Fight of the Century” at Madison Square Garden in 1971, Duggan writes a script that involves the three of them and travels the Big Apple attempting to entice his heroes to participate in the play and to secure a venue at which it can be presented.

The story is set in Spring 1984, at a time when Hoffman was appearing in the stage production of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman at The Broadhurst Theater on Broadway, Allen was filming The Purple Rose Of Cairo with Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels in Piermont, Rockland County, and Dylan was in the middle of his European Tour with Santana.  An endearing feature of the novella is the extent to which Jared has gone to ensure the historical accuracy of each of the contemporaneous events that provide the background to his story. This accuracy will certainly withstand the zealous scrutiny of the most avid Hoffman/Allen/Dylan-ologist.

Author – Jared Feldschreiber

The plot will be equally enticing to anyone with an interest in the geography or culture of New York City, and again, the facts all fit together really well.  Jared’s own research has clearly involved a good deal of web searching, but that doesn’t detract from his excursions into the history and importance of institutions such as Madison Square Garden, The Syracuse Stage, The Broadhurst Theater, SUNY Purchase and the fortunes of The New York Knicks basketball team – it all makes the reader want to walk those streets once again.

Of course, from the point of view of a site like At The Barrier, it’s the music content that holds the most interest and, again, Jared gives a good account of Bob Dylan’s activities of the time.  Lead character John Duggan wears his Dylan worship on his sleeve and is overjoyed to have obtained a ticket to the man himself at his show at Slane Castle, Dublin on 8th July 1984.  In his text, Jared makes copious references to the progress of the tour during the days leading up to the Slane Castle event – band member Mick Taylor gets a special mention (although other members like The Faces’ Ian McClagan don’t…), gigs at Schaerbeek Stadium in Brussels, St James’s Park, Wembley and at Gothenburg’s Ullevi Stadium are all referenced, as are the fall-out that led to Joan Baez leaving the tour after the Copenhagen show and the London guest appearances from Chrissie Hynde and Eric Clapton.  Prior to the Slane concert, a rumoured guest appearance from Van Morrison is mooted – in fact, it was U2’s Bono who joined Dylan for the encore that evening (U2 were in residence at Slane Castle at the time, putting the finishing touches to The Unforgettable Fire.)

Jared makes good use of author’s license throughout the story – the ease at which he is able to meet, or get close to, principal figures such as Irving Mitchell Felt, developer and director of Madison Square Garden, Arthur Storch, artistic director of The Syracuse Stage and the three stars, Hoffman, Allen and Dylan does require the reader to suspend credibility somewhat – but it all adds to the yarn, and there’s a happy ending to enjoy too!

Reckless Abandon is available from Amazon in paperback or kindle format. You can also purchase the book from independent retailers worldwide including Badlands in Cheltenham in the UK (here) – it’s an entertaining read, why not give a try?

Jared Feldschreiber/Tree of Film Online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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