Only Once In A Lifetime - A Novel by Alejandro Grattan
During the late 1970s, the first major Hispanic motion picture, Only Once in a Lifetime, premiered in Texas at the San Antonio Film Festival. The reaction was, according to the city s largest newspaper, The Express-News, "thunderous applause and a standing ovation." A few days later, the movie earned another standing ovation at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Then to more accolades at the Academy Award Theater in Beverly Hills.
An offer followed from the First Family of Mexico to host a premiere in Mexico City. The 90-minute film, a "generic first" according to the Los Angeles Times, collected outstanding reviews wherever it played, which led to the movie being selected as an "Official United States Entry" at the prestigious Deauville Film Festival in France.
Yet despite the film s critical and financial success, its writer, director and co-producer, Alejandro Grattan, was left with an empty feeling. The script had barely scratched the surface of the story Grattan wanted to tell; in this respect, a movie is like an iceberg, with only a small fraction of its true size ever visible to the eye.
More than 20 years later, and after three years of writing, the rest of the story has finally been told with the publication of Grattan s third novel. The book is a sensitive, gentle story peppered with humor, incredibly believable characters and scenes masterfully woven by a gifted storyteller into a first-rate novel, guaranteed to elicit ear-to-ear smiles from any reader.
The author's goal was to write a very simple story which would transcend its ethnic base to finally explore humanity at its core. It was to be a story shorn of all rhetorical flourishes, with John Steinbeck s Of Mice and Men serving as a model. In this respect, Grattan has not only succeeded, but exceeded his goal. He cuts to the emotional chase of the human condition with succinct clarity and a highly-developed writer s understanding that less can be more.
The novel begins in 1940 in you ll love this Ajijic, where a homeless boy, Francisco Obregon, befriends a visiting Hollywood screenwriter (Adrian Grant) and his wife. Grant wants to adopt the boy, but the Second World War intervenes, and it is only years later that Francisco and his own wife finally arrive in Los Angeles.
Thereafter, they suffer through one tragic interlude after another. Francisco s once promising career as a painter (which had been filled with colorful, upbeat canvases) turns as sour as his disposition, and his work becomes so melancholy as to be unmarketable. Finally, despair and hopelessness cause him to ask the ultimate question: to be or not to be. He decides that the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" have become more than he can withstand. It is time not to be. Later, after making arrangement for a new home for his old dog, Francisco is but a few hours away from carrying out his plan to end his life. However, as I heard someone once quip want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.
And speaking of plans, plan on laughing (despite the story s somber structure), thinking, marveling and maybe even saying out loud, Alright! during and after your reading of the book. The movie upon which it s based was once called by Jack Valenti, the president of the Motion Picture Association of America, "absolutely astonishing." The novel is even more impressive. Incidentally, Grattan is also the author of two other critically-acclaimed novels, The Dark Side of the Dream and Breaking Even. He has called Lakeside his home for the past 15 years.
Postscript: The book may be ordered by calling 766-2278 or through amazon.com or we-publish.com. As with his other two novels, the author is donating a portion of his own share of the Lakeside and Guadalajara revenue to the Niños Incapacitados.