Townhouse Books

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Perfect American:Peter Stephan Jungk; Michael Hofmann

The Perfect American is a fictionalized biography of Disney by a former employee. The immigrant employee works hard making animation cells for Disney, but then he gets caught up in an attempt to discredit Disney for his politics. Disney who will harbor no dissidents fires him as soon as he hears about the plot. Wilhelm Dantine goes to great lengths after this to stalk Disney until the day he dies. It is hard to say what Dantine is hoping to achieve through this cat and mouse game. Half the time Disney is hardly aware of his existence. You end up really just wanting to tell Dantine to start a new life and stop worrying about the past so much.

It was interesting to hear a lot of details about Disney's life. It almost makes me want to check out a real BIO and read it to compare. I especially like Disney's conversations with Abe.


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  • This makes me think of something Emily said about "The Historian" about how it can be troubling to absorb history through literature -- you don't know what's true and what the author has improvised to advance the plot. I read this lit crit book called "Reading the Romance" and in surveys the author discovered that one of the main reasons women say they read romance novels is to learn about other times/places.

    By Anna, at 6:41 AM  

  • Yeah.. I was just talking to Alissa about the cryptonomicon. I think part of why I like it so much is that I almost feel like I am learning something. But one must stress the almost part.

    I think the greatest effect books such as this can have is that they might inspire the reader to actually find source material to learn from.

    By Jason, at 9:14 AM  

  • You know, I wonder if that's why I've been on a mini-nonfiction kick. That, and Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, which re-convinced me that real people are interesting, too.

    By lillygog, at 6:35 PM  

  • I love Sarah Vowell. I enjoy the way she wallows in her obsessiveness in that book. Also, it's such a great pilgrimage book. I've almost convinced myself that I read it while on a DC/Baltimore road trip. But I know that's not right -- I did read it in the car, but on the way to Ft. Lauderdale!

    By Anna, at 7:24 AM  

  • I was lucky enough to see Sarah Vowell speak for Assassination Vacation (in between stops at a couple of bars, which made it all the more fun), and it was the first time I really got an appreciation for the performance of obsessive historical research. She'd talk about all the presidential papers and diaries and 19th century biographies she went through, and I'd think "Thanks, Sarah! I'd never do that myself, but I sure do enjoy reading about it!"

    By lillygog, at 9:19 AM  

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