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Some Came Running

First edition cover
First edition
Author James Jones
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Charles Scribner's Sons
Publication date
1957
Media type Print (hardcover & paperback)
Pages 1,200 pp (first edition, hard)
ISBN NA
Preceded by From Here to Eternity (1951)
Followed by The Pistol (1959)

Some Came Running is a novel by James Jones, published in 1957. This was Jones' second published novel, following his award-winning debut From Here to Eternity. It is the story of a war veteran with literary aspirations who returns in 1948 to his hometown of Parkman, Indiana,[1] after a failed writing career. It was a thinly disguised autobiographical novel of Jones's experiences in his hometown of Robinson, Illinois immediately after returning from World War II.

A film version starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine and Martha Hyer (filmed on location in historic Madison, Indiana) was nominated for five Academy Awards.

Contents

  • Plot 1
  • Critical reception 2
  • Film adaptation 3
  • References 4

Plot

Dave Hirsh is a cynical Army veteran who winds up in his hometown of Parkman after being put on a bus in Chicago while intoxicated. Ginny Moorehead, a woman of seemingly loose morals and poor education, has taken the same bus.

Hirsh had left Parkman 16 years before when his older brother Frank placed him in a charity boarding school, and is still embittered. Frank has since married well, inherited a jewelry business from the father of his wife Agnes, and made their social status his highest priority. Dave's return threatens this, so Frank makes a fruitless stab at arranging respectability, introducing him to his friend Professor French and his daughter Gwen, a schoolteacher.

Dave moves in different circles, however. He befriends Bama Dillert, a gambler who has serendipitously settled in Parkman. Two factors seem to offer Dave hope and redemption: he takes a fatherly interest in his niece, Frank's daughter Dawn, and falls in love with Gwen. Despite his somewhat notorious reputation, Dave is basically a good, honest man, well aware of his own shortcomings. His cynicism is often a mask to hide the pain of rejection.

Though Ginny is not his social or intellectual match, he eventually sees the basic good in her and responds to her unconditional love. In the end, Ginny is stalked by her former boyfriend (a Chicago hoodlum), who shoots at Dave. Ginny jumps in front of Dave and is shot in the back and dies. The final scene is at Ginny's burial, shortly after Professor French and Gwen arrive.

The book's plot, taking place in peacetime civilian life, is framed by two short war episodes printed in Italics - the prelude depicting Hirsh's experiences in the Second World War, the aftermath having a younger character fighting and getting killed in the Korean War. The latter character is also an aspiring writer, and his last thought before being killed in a grenade explosion is of the manuscript he would never complete.

Critical reception

The book was savaged by the critics. Due to frequently "misspelled" words and punctuation errors, critics were generally harsh, not recognizing that such elements were a conscious style choice by Jones to evoke the provincialism of the novel's characters and setting.

Film adaptation

The book was adapted to Some Came Running, a 1958 American film directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine and Martha Hyer. The role earned MacLaine her first Academy Awards nomination. Martha Hyer received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

References

  1. ^ Towns called "Parkman" actually exist in Maine, Ohio and Wyoming, but there is no town by that name in Indiana.
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