HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIAM SAROYAN

Examiner.com
http://www.examiner.com/x-20 517-Austin-Literature-Examiner~y2009m8d31-Happy-bi rthday-William-Saroyan
Aug 31 2009

One hundred and one years ago today, playwright and author William
Saroyan was born. The son of Armenian immigrants, Saroyan was a
California native who often set his stories in his home town of
Fresno. His father died when he was three years old, and Saroyan
himself is said to have decided to become a writer when his mother
showed him some of his father's work.

Saroyan's big break as a writer came with the publication of his story,
The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze in 1934. Chronicling the
struggle of a starving writer during the Depression, the story gained
such popularity that Saroyan's previous works as well as his current
writings began being published regularly. Six years later Saroyan was
awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his play The Time of Your Life, an honor
he refused based on his belief that the arts should not be judged. The
play was eventually adapted into a feature film starring James Cagney.

In 1943, Saroyan was hired to write a screenplay for MGM Studios. This
screenplay became the film The Human Comedy, but when Saroyan was
fired from the project, he novelized the story as a counterpoint
to the film. The novel, with strong references to Homer's Odyssey,
follows 14-year-old Homer Macauley, who earns money as a telegraph
boy in California. Set during the war, Homer sometimes finds himself
delivering messages to families of fallen soldiers. Though he won
an Oscar for the original story of the film, Saroyan fell out of
favor after the war because of the idealism inherent in his work,
then considered to be out of fashion.

Fraught with financial troubles at various points in his career,
and engaged in a tumultuous relationship with actress Carol Marcus,
Saroyan's private life was not ideal. Married and divorced twice,
Saroyan and Marcus had two children, daughter Lucy and son Aram, who
is a poet and author in his own right today. Marcus went on to marry
actor Walter Matthau. Saroyan continued to write late into his life,
dying of prostate cancer in 1981.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress