Paralyzed from the neck down, Gordon Zahler rose from his deathbed to a fast-talking, Hollywood entrepreneur/idea man who traveled the world, lived hard, married, fantasized about water-skiing, and chased his dreams to create one of the largest independent postproduction shops in Hollywood.
While this is Chip Jacobs' story about coming to grips with his deformed uncle, himself, and his mother, the silent victim to Gordon's recklessness, Wheeling the Deal is also a tip of the hat to the man who turned his back on the notion of "I can't."
This is one of those books that will take you a good week or so to read through (if you are an avid reader - if not, maybe a little longer). It's a big book, in more ways than one. You will want to sink your teeth into this one, savor it, roll it around in your head. I have so much I want to say about this book, but I don't want to give too much away, so I'll do the best I can...
There are so many sides to Gordon in this book, to the free-living child with mischief on his mind, to the depressed man with little to no time to live, to the man who wants to live life to the fullest, and there and back again and every shade in between. I'm not sure I really liked any of the Gordons presented in this book. It wasn't about me liking him or not, it was more about who he was and a feeling of "wow, he really did all that" and "wow, he was supposed to be dead a couple of decades ago". Heh, reminds me of what we used to say about certain family members - "too mean to die". I usually have a hard time reading a book when I honestly don't like the main character, but the writing of this really made a big difference for me.
I never could reconcile Judy for myself. The author speaks very low of her when she is introduced, but I found myself feeling sorry for her at times. Yes, I know, she didn't always have the best intentions, I'm sure, but I dunno... something about her still bugs me and I can't figure out what it is.
I think I felt the worst for Muriel. I know, everything turns out like it should, but I felt like she was so... pushed aside. In some ways, perhaps the author felt the same way with his brother. It just seemed like Muriel's life got derailed more than it should have. Then again, this WAS the 1940s, so... it was what it was, right?
I also wish there were more splashes of the author's side of the story in here. I felt like I was cheated a little bit because the common lines were very subtle. Probably on purpose, but I still wanted more of what was going on.
Having said that... this author is one to watch. The writing is beautiful and grabbed me from the very start. But more than that, it felt honest. When he's at the fire with his family members, I was there with him. I felt that heat.
Good book. Grab it, toss it on your bedside table and savor it.